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1.  Transmission and postexposure management of bloodborne virus infections in the health care setting: Where are we now? 
THERE HAS BEEN CONSIDERABLE DEBATE ABOUT THE NEED for mandatory serologic testing of individuals who are the source of bloodborne pathogen exposures in health care and other occupational settings. The transmission of hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and HIV between patients and health care workers (HCWs) is related to the frequency of exposures capable of allowing transmission, the prevalence of disease in the source populations, the risk of transmission given exposure to an infected source and the effectiveness of postexposure management. Transmission of HBV from patients to HCWs has been substantially reduced by vaccination and universal precautions. The transmission of HCV and HIV to HCWs does occur, although postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) is available to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. Transmission of bloodborne pathogens from infected HCWs to patients has also been documented. Policy-making concerning the mandatory postexposure testing of patients who may be the source of infection must weigh the relative infrequency of patients' refusals to be tested and the consequences for PEP recommendations with the ethical and legal considerations of bypassing informed consent and mandating testing. Mandatory postexposure testing of HCWs who are the source of infection will have a limited impact on reducing transmission because of the lack of recognition and reporting of exposures. Comprehensive approaches have been recommended to reduce the risk of transmission of bloodborne virus infections.
PMCID: PMC81374  PMID: 11531058

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