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Background: Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) is transmitted through blood, infected body fluids, and unsterile needles and surgical equipment. We first determined the current seroprevalence of HBV and vaccination coverage, then assessed knowledge on risk factors for hepatitis B virus infection among medical laboratory workers at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted from January to June 2014, involving health care workers (HCWs) from KCMC. Eligibility for participation in the study was determined by length on employment, provision of consent, and willingness to complete a questionnaire. Recruitment was non-randomised; a simple and consecutive sampling of 85 eligible HCWs was conducted at the hospital during study period. Structured questionnaires were self-administered and consenting participants allowed blood samples to be tested for HBV infection. Blood (4 mL) was obtained by venepuncture from all participants using sterilised disposable 5 mL syringes and 20 gauge needles. All collected blood was tested for HBsAg using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay according to manufacturer’s guidelines. A cut-off point of 10% (P>0.1) was used to select variables to be included in the further analysis.
Results: Out of the 76 HCWs eligible to participate in the study, only 8 (10.5%) were vaccinated against HBV. Of the 68 unvaccinated laboratory workers, 9 (11.8%) tested positive for HBsAg. Knowledge about HBV infection and its associated risks was high among medical personnel – where 36.4% scored above 65% – compared with non-medical personnel, none of whom scored as high as 65%.
Conclusions: Seroprevalence of HBsAg among laboratory workers at KCMC was 11.8%. Low knowledge of risks for HBV infection placed HCWs at great risk of occupational exposure. Low vaccination coverage among HCWs increases the risk of acquiring HBV infection following occupational exposure.