Updated national guidelines for health care workers living with blood borne viruses

  29 January 2019  Australian Government Department of Health   |   Third party content – view disclaimer

The Australian national guidelines for the management of health care workers living with blood borne viruses and health care workers who perform exposure prone procedures at risk of exposure to blood borne viruses have been revised.

The updated Guidelines were published in December 2018 by the Commonwealth government and include some important changes reflecting the effectiveness of antiviral treatment for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.

The revised Guidelines also support the National Blood Borne Viruses strategies which aim to increase testing and early treatment and reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with blood borne viruses.

Under the previous guidelines health care workers (HCWs) living with a blood borne virus (BBV) were restricted from performing exposure prone procedures (EPPs) if they were HIV antibody positive, hepatitis C RNA positive, or hepatitis B DNA positive.

Under the revised Guidelines:

  • HCWs living with a BBV can return to performing EPPs, provided they comply with and meet the criteria outlined in the Guidelines (HIV viral load < 200 copies/ml, hepatitis B DNA < 200 UI/ml, hepatitis C RNA negative).
  • HCWs who undertake EPPs must take reasonable steps to know their BBV status and should be tested for BBVs at least once every three years.
  • HCWs with non-occupational risk factors for BBVs should be encouraged to have regular BBV testing according to standard guidelines
  • All registered HCWs who perform EPPs must confirm when applying for renewal of registration that they comply with the Guidelines

To view the full Guidelines and related information sheets please visit the Department of Health website.

The Specialist Medical Colleges and the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine also provide support and advice to clinicians with regards to the Guidelines and what procedures constitute EPPs.

Disclaimer: This article was provided by Australian Government Department of Health. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network does not warrant or represent the accuracy, currency and completeness of any information or material included within.