Management of hepatitis exposure

Introduction

EXPOSURE to blood, body fluids and tissue in an occupational setting may not only put healthcare workers at risk of HIV but also other blood-borne viruses (BBVs) such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). 

In Australia, the prevalence of HBV carriers in the bulk of the population is estimated at 0.1–0.2%, but in some Australian Aboriginal populations it may be as high as 1–5%. 

In China, carrier rates may be as high as 5%, and for some Southeast Asian and Pacific island populations, greater than 10% of the population are thought to be HBV carriers.1

Although a hardy virus – studies have demonstrated that HBV is able to survive on environmental surfaces at room temperature in dried blood for over a week – it is the HBV e antigen (HBeAg) status of the source and the degree of exposure that will determine risk of transmission.2

In fact, where the

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