Hepatitis B and C seroprevalence among health care workers in a tertiary hospital in Rwanda

Hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) are significant global public health challenges with health care workers (HCWs) at especially high risk of exposure in resource-poor settings. This study aimed to measure HBV and HCV prevalence, identify exposure risks and evaluate hepatitis-related knowledge amongst Rwandan tertiary hospital HCWs. A cross sectional study involving tertiary hospital employees was conducted from October to December 2013. A pre-coded questionnaire was used to collect data on HCWs’ socio-demographics, risk factors and knowledge of blood-borne infection prevention. Blood samples were drawn and screened for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and anti-HCV antibodies. The results showed that among 378 consenting HCWs, the prevalence of HBsAg positivity was 2.9% (11/378; 95% CI: 1.9 to 4.6%) and anti-HCV positivity 1.3% (5/378; 95% CI: 0.7 to 2.7%). Occupational exposure to blood was reported in 57.1% (216/378). Of the 17 participants (4.5%; 17/378) who reported having received the HBV vaccine, only 3 participants (0.8%) had received the three-dose vaccination course. Only 42 HCWs (42/378; 11.1%) were aware that a HBV vaccine was available. Most HCW (95.2%; 360/378) reported having been tested for HIV in the last 6 months. The authors concluded that despite their high workplace exposure risk, HBV and HCV sero-prevalence rates among HCWs were low. The low HBV vaccination coverage and poor knowledge of preventative measures among HCWs suggest low levels of viral hepatitis awareness despite this high exposure.

Authors: Kateera F, Walker TD, Mutesa L, Mutabazi V, Musabeyesu E, Mukabatsinda C, Bihizimana P, Kyamanywa P, Karenzi B, Orikiiriza JT. ;Full Source: Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 2015 Mar;109(3):203-8. doi: 10.1093/trstmh/trv004. Epub 2015 Jan 30. ;