Hepatitis B immunisation amongst doctors and laboratory personnel in Kwazulu-natal, South Africa

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Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is the most easily transmitted blood-borne pathogen and is an occupational hazard for health care workers (HCWs). Despite the fact that infection is preventable through vaccination and post-exposure immunoglobulin therapy, many HCWs are unaware of the risks of HBV infection and of appropriate preventative measures. This study is unique in the South African setting as it focuses on the exposure, attitude and knowledge of doctors to HBV infection. Method: This was an observational descriptive study. Records of the HBV immune status of all doctors who reported an occupational injury (OI) to the occupational health clinic between June 2010 and May 2011 were reviewed. A structured questionnaire was then distributed to all laboratory personnel and senior doctors employed at the hospital. Results: Of the 67 doctors who reported an OI, 39% (26 out of 67) had no HBV immunity and only 19% (5 out of 26) had received Hepatitis B immunoglobulin. Of the 78 doctors who completed the questionnaire, 65% (51 out of 78) reported at least one OI during their career. Fifty-six percent of the respondents were unaware of their HBV immune status and only 31% had received a booster within the previous 5 years. Conclusion: Poor compliance of HCWs to HBV vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis is a concern. In-service training is needed to inform staff of the efficacy of HBV vaccination and immunoglobulin therapy.




Khan, F. Y., & Ross, A. J. (2013). Hepatitis B immunisation amongst doctors and laboratory personnel in Kwazulu-natal, South Africa. African Journal of Primary Health Care and Family Medicine, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v5i1.452

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