NEW YORK (AP) _ Trial proceedings began Tuesday in the lawsuit of a doctor who claims she contracted AIDS when she pricked her finger with a contaminated needle while working at a city hospital.

While Dr. Veronica Prego plans to testify despite her illness, she did not attend jury selection, which began Tuesday afternoon. Reporters were barred.

''There was no need to put her through this stress. She will be here when the trial opens,'' said Prego's lawyer, Diane Wilner.

Prego was a 25-year-old medical school graduate seven years ago when, she says, she was accidentally stuck by an AIDS-infected needle.

Prego has sued the Kings County Hospital and its parent agency, the city Health and Hospital Corp. Also named in the lawsuit are the city and two doctors.

According to her $175 million negligence lawsuit, Prego was working under a licensed physician and was cleaning up after an intern when she reached into a tangle of gauze and bed linens in which the intern had left a bloody needle.

Two years ago she was diagnosed as having AIDS.

The HHC, which operates the city's hospitals, disputes Prego's version of the events, but refused to discuss specifics of the case.

The trial judge, State Supreme Court Justice Aaron D. Bernstein said he believed potential jurors might be reluctant to answer sensitive and somewhat personal questions about AIDS if journalists were present.