What is the risk of occupational exposure to human immunodeficiency virus?

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It is estimated that between 200 and 5000 HIV infections are transmitted annually to HCWs worldwide” Mabwe et al (2017).

Abstract:

Background: Occupational exposure to blood or other body fluids in healthcare settings puts healthcare workers (HCWs) at risk of acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It is estimated that between 200 and 5000 HIV infections are transmitted annually to HCWs worldwide. Use of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) has been documented to reduce the rate of HIV infection from workplace exposures by 81%.

Aim: To investigate the extent of occupational exposure to HIV infection during the period of 12 months before the survey and to identify factors associated with uptake of PEP services among HCWs.

Methods: We interviewed 221 HCWs from selected healthcare facilities in Kongwa, Tanzania. Data included occupational exposures to body fluids, knowledge and use of PEP.

Findings: Sixty (27.1%) of the HCWs had experienced exposures to blood and body fluids, of whom 71.7% (43/60) had needlestick injuries. Medical attendants were more frequently exposed, followed by nurses (31.7% and 28.6% respectively). Of the exposed HCWs, seven (11.7%) reported use of HIV PEP. Reporting of exposure [odds ratio (OR): 8.44; P = 0.016], knowledge of the HIV status of the source patient (OR: 42.19; P = 0.007) and awareness of PEP (OR: 12.72; P = 0.010) were significant predictors of PEP use.

Conclusion: Uptake of PEP services among HCWs remains low despite high rate of occupational exposures. Wider dissemination of HIV PEP guidelines and training of HCWs is required in Tanzania to ensure that HCWs have knowledge of, and prompt access to, PEP services.

Reference:

Mabwe, P., Kessy, A.T. and Semali, I. (2017) Understanding the magnitude of occupational exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and uptake of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis among healthcare workers in a rural district in Tanzania. The Journal of Hospital Infection
January 28th. [epub ahead of print].

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhin.2015.04.024

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