Precautions for health care workers to avoid hepatitis B and C virus infection

Int J Occup Environ Med. 2011 Oct;2(4):191-8.


The burden of exposure to blood-borne pathogens (such as hepatitis B and C viruses) is considerable for health care workers. Hepatitis virus transmission requires a non-immune host, an infectious source, and skin or mucous membrane injury. These three aspects are the main fields for preventional interventions. We reviewed major recent studies on this topic to identify precautions health care workers should take to avoid hepatitis B (HBV) and C virus (HCV) infections. Accordingly, this review looks at aspects of epidemiology, risk factors, economy, knowledge, attitudes, practice, and ethics of HBV and HCV that affect health care workers. The risk of transmission depends on the load of pathogen, infectious characteristics and exposure frequency. Health care workers skill levels and the specific hospital department involved appear to be the most important factors in the exposure of health care workers to blood-borne pathogens. However, many health care workers surveyed, believed that educational programs about standard precautions in their setting were not adequate. Obviously, more detailed studies will be needed to clarify risks and opportunities for health care workers precautions aimed at avoiding HBV and HCV infection, especially in emerging health research communities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood-Borne Pathogens
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Personnel*
  • Hepatitis B / transmission*
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional / prevention & control*
  • Needlestick Injuries / prevention & control
  • Occupational Exposure / prevention & control*
  • Risk Factors