AMSSM Releases Updated Position Statement on Blood-borne Pathogens in the Context of Sports Participation


Newswise — LEAWOOD, Kan. — The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) has produced a Position Statement Update on Blood-Borne Pathogens in the Context of Sports Participation.

There have been significant advances in clinical and scientific research in the understanding of blood-borne pathogens (BBPs), which are pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis D virus (HDV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Updating a statement from 1995, this document is intended as a general guide to clinical practice based on the current state of evidence, while acknowledging the need for modification as new knowledge becomes available.

“This update highlights the tremendous advancements made in the understanding of blood-borne pathogens and athletic participation in the 20-plus years since the first AMSSM statement on this topic,” said lead author Christopher McGrew, MD, a sports medicine physician at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. “Exercise has been found to have many positive health effects for those living with BBPs and athletes should be encouraged in all aspects of participation in their sports.”

The position statement has been concurrently published by the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine and the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and the document is freely accessible on both websites.

The spread of BBPs has been proposed as potential concern in athletic participation; yet, the confirmed transmission of BBPs during sport is exceedingly rare. There are no well-documented reports of HIV, HCV, or HDV transmission during sport. There is also no evidence for universal testing for BBPs as a specific requirement for participation in sports.

Competitive athletes and non-athletes should follow appropriate general public health agency recommendations for screening for BBPs, considering their individual risk factors and exposures. Standard (universal) precautions must be followed by those providing care to athletes.

“These guidelines reflect the current standard of care as well as the identification of areas for future research,” said AMSSM President Chad Asplund, MD, MPH. “They represent a significant tool for sports medicine physicians that take care of athletes, which will allow for more athletes to participate and for safer participation.”

Exercise and athletic participation can help promote a healthy lifestyle for persons living with BBPs. Those with acute symptomatic BBP infection should limit exercise intensity based on their current health status. Education is the key tool for preventing BBP transmission. Research gaps include evaluation of the prevalence of BBP infections in competitive athletes, the effects of long-term, intense training on infected athletes, and the effects of BBP treatment therapies on performance.

“Current state-of-the-art BBP treatments can markedly extend lifespans to near normal and, in the case of HCV, result in cures,” Dr. McGrew said. “The authors hope that this document will serve as useful guide for all providers who care for those living with BBPs.”

About the AMSSM: AMSSM is a multi-disciplinary organization of more than 3,800 sports medicine physicians dedicated to education, research, advocacy and the care of athletes of all ages. The majority of AMSSM members are primary care physicians with fellowship training and added qualification in sports medicine who then combine their practice of sports medicine with their primary specialty. AMSSM includes members who specialize solely in non-surgical sports medicine and serve as team physicians at the youth level, NCAA, NFL, MLB, NBA, WNBA, MLS and NHL, as well as with Olympic and Paralympic teams. By nature of their training and experience, sports medicine physicians are ideally suited to provide comprehensive medical care for athletes, sports teams or active individuals who are simply looking to maintain a healthy lifestyle. www.amssm.org

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