Background: The dialysis setting has been recognized as a high-risk environment for transmission to both patients and health care personnel of blood-borne infections, such as hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and HIV. Methods: A seroprevalence survey of HIV, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus infection among 1002 patients and a subsequent 1-year surveillance study of percutaneous injuries and skin and mucous membrane contaminations were carried out among 527 health care workers in nine Italian dialysis units. The risks of occupational acquisition of HIV, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus infections among health care workers were calculated according to a deterministic model. Results: HIV antibody, hepatitis B surface antigen, and hepatitis C antibody prevalences among patients were 0.1%, 5.1%, and 39.4%, respectively. A total of 67 percutaneous injuries, 29 mucous membrane contaminations, and 271 skin contaminations were reported by health care workers. The risk of acquiring infection was calculated to be 4000 and 8000 times lower for HIV than for hepatitis B and C, respectively. Conclusions: The risks of infection with HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C for health care workers at dialysis units differ greatly and depend on the demographic profile and medical history of patients undergoing dialysis. To minimize the risk of exposure to HIV and other blood-borne pathogens, efforts must continue to increase compliance with universal precautions. Needle designs incorporating safety features and improvements in dialysis equipment design are also needed to avoid potential exposure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy
- Infectious Diseases
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health