Risk of hepatitis C seroconversion after occupational exposures in health care workers. Italian Study Group on Occupational Risk of HIV and Other Bloodborne Infections

Am J Infect Control. 1995 Oct;23(5):273-7. doi: 10.1016/0196-6553(95)90056-x.


Background: To determine the incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroconversion, health care workers reporting an occupational exposure with blood or other risk-prone body materials from a patient known to be seropositive for HCV antibody were enrolled.

Methods: HCV seroconversion within 6 months of a reported exposure was assessed by second-generation enzyme immunoassay and immunoblot assay.

Results: From January 1992 through December 1993, 331 (51%) hollow-bore needlesticks, 105 (16.5%) suture needle or sharp object injuries, 85 (13%) mucous membrane contaminations, and 125 (19.5%) skin contaminations were reported. Four HCV seroconversions were observed after hollow-bore needlesticks (1.2%; 95% CI 0.3% to 3.0%); no seroconversions occurred after other routes of exposure. Blood-filled needlesticks and source patient coinfection with HIV appeared to be associated with a higher risk of seroconversion.

Conclusions: The risk of HCV seroconversion after occupational exposure appears to be low but is not negligible. Aggressive implementation of universal precautions is important for preventing risk-prone exposure, but safer devices are also needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood-Borne Pathogens
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / biosynthesis
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Incidence
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Patient-to-Professional* / statistics & numerical data
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personnel, Hospital*
  • Risk Factors


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies