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October 1, 1997

Recommendations for Follow-Up of Health-Care Workers After Occupational Exposure to Hepatitis C Virus

JAMA. 1997;278(13):1056-1057. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550130022010

HEPATITIS C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of chronic liver disease in the United States and worldwide. At least 85% of persons with HCV infection become chronically infected, and chronic liver disease with persistently elevated liver enzymes develops in approximately 70% of all HCV-infected persons.1 Persons with chronic hepatitis C are at risk for cirrhosis and primary hepatocellular carcinoma. Most HCV transmission is associated with direct percutaneous exposure to blood. Healthcare workers (HCWs) are at occupational risk for acquiring this viral infection. However, no vaccine is available to prevent hepatitis C, and immune globulin is not recommended for postexposure prophylaxis.

In the absence of (1) pre-exposure or postexposure prophylaxis, (2) recommendations that are unique for HCV to prevent HCV transmission to others, and (3) effective therapy for most persons with chronic hepatitis C, the overall public health benefit associated with the identification of HCV infections in HCWs