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      Sero-prevalence and risk factors for hepatitis B virus infection among health care workers in a tertiary hospital in Uganda

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          Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a global public health challenge. Prevalence of current hepatitis B virus infection in the general population in Uganda is about 10%. Health care workers (HCW) have an extra risk of getting infected from their workplace and yet they are not routinely vaccinated against HBV infection. This study aimed at estimating prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection and associated risk factors among health care workers in a tertiary hospital in Uganda.


          Data were obtained from a cross sectional survey conducted in Mulago, a national referral and teaching hospital in Uganda among health care workers in 2003. A proportionate to size random sample was drawn per health care worker category. A structured questionnaire was used to collect data on socio-demographic characteristics and risk factors. ELISA was used to test sera for HBsAg, anti-HBs and total anti-HBc. Descriptive and logistic regression models were used for analysis.


          Among the 370 participants, the sero-prevalence of current hepatitis B virus infection was 8.1%; while prevalence of life time exposure to hepatitis B virus infection was 48.1%. Prevalence of needle stick injuries and exposure to mucous membranes was 67.8% and 41.0% respectively. Cuts were also common with 31.7% of doctors reporting a cut in a period of one year preceding the survey. Consistent use of gloves was reported by 55.4% of respondents. The laboratory technicians (18.0% of respondents) were the least likely to consistently use gloves. Only 6.2% of respondents were vaccinated against hepatitis B virus infection and 48.9% were susceptible and could potentially be protected through vaccination. Longer duration in service was associated with a lower risk of current infection (OR = 0.13; p value = 0.048). Being a nursing assistant (OR = 17.78; p value = 0.007) or a laboratory technician (OR = 12.23; p value = 0.009) were associated with a higher risk of current hepatitis B virus infection. Laboratory technicians (OR = 3.99; p value = 0.023) and individuals with no training in infection prevention in last five years (OR = 1.85; p value = 0.015) were more likely to have been exposed to hepatitis B virus infection before.


          The prevalence of current and life time exposure to hepatitis B virus infection was high. Exposure to potentially infectious body fluids was high and yet only a small percentage of HCW were vaccinated. There is need to vaccinate all health care workers as a matter of policy and ensure a safer work environment.

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          Most cited references 26

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          Hepatitis B virus epidemiology, disease burden, treatment, and current and emerging prevention and control measures.

           D Lavanchy (2004)
          Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a serious global health problem, with 2 billion people infected worldwide, and 350 million suffering from chronic HBV infection. The 10th leading cause of death worldwide, HBV infections result in 500 000 to 1.2 million deaths per year caused by chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma; the last accounts for 320 000 deaths per year. In Western countries, the disease is relatively rare and acquired primarily in adulthood, whereas in Asia and most of Africa, chronic HBV infection is common and usually acquired perinatally or in childhood. More efficacious treatments, mass immunization programs, and safe injection techniques are essential for eliminating HBV infection and reducing global HBV-related morbidity and mortality. Safe and effective vaccines against HBV infection have been available since 1982. The implementation of mass immunization programs, which have been recommended by the World Health Organization since 1991, have dramatically decreased the incidence of HBV infection among infants, children, and adolescents in many countries. However, not all countries have adopted these recommendations and there remains a large number of persons that were infected with HBV prior to the implementation of immunization programs. Antiviral treatment is the only way to reduce morbidity and mortality from chronic HBV infection. Conventional interferon alfa and lamivudine have been the primary treatments to date. Conventional interferon alfa produces a durable response in a moderate proportion of patients but has undesirable side-effects and must be administered subcutaneously three times per week. Lamivudine also produces a response in a modest proportion of patients and causes few side-effects. However, prolonged treatment is often necessary to prevent relapse on cessation of therapy, and continuous treatment can lead to the development of lamivudine resistance. Promising emerging new treatments include adefovir, entecavir and peginterferon alfa-2a (40 kDa).
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            A mathematical model to estimate global hepatitis B disease burden and vaccination impact.

            Limited data are available regarding global hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related morbidity and mortality and potential reduction in disease burden from hepatitis B vaccination. A model was developed to calculate the age-specific risk of acquiring HBV infection, acute hepatitis B (illness and death), and progression to chronic HBV infection. HBV-related deaths among chronically infected persons were determined from HBV-related cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) mortality curves, adjusted for background mortality. The effect of hepatitis B vaccination was calculated from vaccine efficacy and vaccination series coverage, with and without administration of the first dose of vaccine within 24 h of birth (i.e. birth dose) to prevent perinatal HBV infection. For the year 2000, the model estimated 620,000 persons died worldwide from HBV-related causes: 580,000 (94%) from chronic infection-related cirrhosis and HCC and 40,000 (6%) from acute hepatitis B. In the surviving birth cohort for the year 2000, the model estimated that without vaccination, 64.8 million would become HBV-infected and 1.4 million would die from HBV-related disease. Infections acquired during the perinatal period, in early childhood ( or = 5 years of age accounted for 21, 48, and 31% of deaths, respectively. Routine infant hepatitis B vaccination, with 90% coverage and the first dose administered at birth would prevent 84% of global HBV-related deaths. Globally, most HBV-related deaths result from the chronic sequelae of infection acquired in the perinatal and early childhood periods. Inclusion of hepatitis B vaccine into national infant immunization programs could prevent >80% of HBV-related deaths.
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              Estimation of the global burden of disease attributable to contaminated sharps injuries among health-care workers.

              The global burden of hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection due to percutaneous injuries among health care workers (HCWs) is estimated. The incidence of infections attributable to percutaneous injuries in 14 geographical regions on the basis of the probability of injury, the prevalence of infection, the susceptibility of the worker, and the percutaneous transmission potential are modeled. The model also provides the attributable fractions of infection in HCWs. Overall, 16,000 HCV, 66,000 HBV, and 1,000 HIV infections may have occurred in the year 2000 worldwide among HCWs due to their occupational exposure to percutaneous injuries. The fraction of infections with HCV, HBV, and HIV in HCWs attributable to occupational exposure to percutaneous injuries fraction reaches 39%, 37%, and 4.4% respectively. Occupational exposures to percutaneous injuries are substantial source of infections with bloodborne pathogens among health-care workers (HCWs). These infections are highly preventable and should be eliminated. 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

                Author and article information

                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central
                29 June 2010
                : 10
                : 191
                [1 ]African Population and Health Research Center, 2nd Floor Shelter Afrique Center, Longonot Road, Upper Hill, P. O. Box 10787, 00100, Nairobi Kenya
                [2 ]Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, Centre for Population Studies, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 49-51 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK
                [3 ]Uganda Virus Research Institute, P. O. Box 49, Entebbe, Uganda
                [4 ]Mulago Hospital, P. O. Box 7051 Kampala, Uganda
                [5 ]Institute of Tropical Medicine and Infectious Diseases, P. O. Box 62000-00200, Nairobi, Kenya
                [6 ]Makerere University, College of Health Sciences, P. O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda
                Copyright ©2010 Ziraba et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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