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The prevalence of serological markers to hepatitis A and hepatitis B in drug abuse personnel

American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2(2): 109-115

The prevalence of serological markers to hepatitis A and hepatitis B in drug abuse personnel

A seroepidemiologic survey was conducted in 25 clinical and 31 nonclinical personnel engaged in substance abuse research and treatment. The antibody to hepatitis A virus (anti-HAV) was identified in 16 percent of the clinical employees and 39 percent of the nonclinical personnel, for a total prevalence of 29 percent. The prevalence of anti-HAV was age related, and the overall frequency was not greater than expected attack rates. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) markers were present in 16 percent of the clinical personnel tested but in only 3 percent of nonclinical personnel, for a total prevalence of 9 percent among the two groups. The nonclinical risk did not exceed the background prevalence of the disease, but the risk for clinical employees was three to five times greater. This risk appeared to be associated with exposure to blood and other potentially infectious body fluids; however, in no case could an employee with HBV markers recall a percutaneous injury, and covert means of transmission could not be excluded. Only one case (20 percent) of HBV infection manifested clinical symptomatology. Even though proper environmental safety measures may decrease the incidence of HBV infection in at-risk groups, some health care workers and researchers in the field of substance abuse may be at sufficiently increased risk of HBV infection to warrant immunization with hepatitis B vaccine.

Accession: 006740507

PMID: 2839211

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