The risk of seroconversion in surgeons of the hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency viruses (in a specific surgical population).

J Mineiro, A Catela, M Pedro, A Gouveia, A R Gomes


The prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBs Ag) and antibody to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was determined in the serum specimens of 288 patients treated surgically in the orthopaedic department of an urban public teaching hospital. The cumulative risk of HBV, HCV and HIV seroconversion for an orthopaedic surgeon during the surgical career span was calculated. We found that 1.4%, 3.1% and 1.7% of patients were seropositive for HBsAg, HCV antibody and HIV antibody, respectively. Seropositivity was neither associated with age nor with trauma, whereas male patients had a greater likelihood of seropositivity. Risk factor assessment did not prove to be discriminating in identifying which patients may pose a potential exposure risk. This study supports the concept of universal infection control precautions for orthopaedic surgeons regardless of the patients' risk factor or serologic status.

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