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Bloodborne Pathogens Retraining (EHS 0738)

Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)

HBV Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a virus that causes an infection of the liver potentially leading to liver disease, liver cancer and possibly death.

Symptoms of HBV infection may range from no symptoms, to brief flu-like symptoms, to jaundice and serious illness. If symptoms do occur, they may not be evident until 2 to 6 months after the person is infected. However, studies have shown that an infected person can be infectious to others several weeks before the onset of symptoms.

HBV Infection Trends

CDC estimates that between 140,000 and 320,000 people become infected every year in the U.S.

Approximately one-half of all people who become infected do not have any symptoms of infection.

Approximately 10% of all people who become infected may become "carriers" of HBV. This means that they may suffer from infection at a later time (chronic infection). They can also be infectious to others for the rest of their lives while not necessarily demonstrating any symptoms of HBV infection themselves.

Occupational Exposure

Individuals whose jobs involve handling blood and OPIM are at a much greater risk of becoming infected with HBV than HIV.

Why you may ask?

It is because there are many more HBV-infected people than HIV-infected people in the community. Thus the chance of exposure to HBV is greater. Also

Hepatitis B virus is much more infectious than HIV.

This difference in infection risk is best illustrated by the following statistics:

If you had a needle stick accident and were exposed to infected blood, your chance of acquiring an infection would be:

    HIV ~0.3% or 3 in 1000

    HBV ~30.0% or 300 in 1000

According to CDC, your risk for acquiring an HBV infection is 100 times greater than for HIV.

When considering the risk of occupational exposure to HBV, keep in mind that a safe and effective vaccine is available to you.

Reducing the Risk through Vaccination

A 3-shot vaccination series is available for hepatitis B virus. The vaccination is highly effective and safe.


As an employee encountering blood and potentially infectious materials in the course of your job, you are entitled to the vaccination at no cost. If you previously declined the vaccination but would like to receive it at this time, or if you would like to discuss the vaccination further, contact:

Health Service-Occupational Health at: ext. 6266.

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