Health-care workers who wear protective gear run a 62 percent lower risk of being infected with AIDS or hepatitis B by their patients, scientists reported Wednesday.

The study is the first proof that precautions suggested by the federal Centers for Disease Control work, said its author, Dr. Edward S. Wong, an epidemiologist at the McQuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Va.The study printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association was designed to determine the effectiveness of those 1987 precautions.

Under CDC policy, health-care workers are advised to assume that all patients are infected with blood-borne diseases and should wear gear such as gloves, masks and goggles.

"Frankly, up until our study there really had not been any proof that (the policy) would do what it intended to do," Wong said.