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UPDATED U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE GUIDELINES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURES TO HVB, HCV AND HIV AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POSTEXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS

Section Editor(s): Bartlett, John G. M.D.

Infectious Diseases in Clinical Practice: August 2001 - Volume 10 - Issue 6 - p 338-340
SPECIAL ARTICLES: GUIDELINES SECTION
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Department of Medicine

Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine

UPDATED U.S. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE GUIDELINES FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURES TO HVB, HCV AND HIV AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR POSTEXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS [MMWR 2001;50:RR-11]:

The long-awaited updated guidelines for occupational exposures to bloodborne pathogens has arrived in the June 29, 2001 issue of MMWR. Highlights are summarized below.

The relative risks of transmission of the three major bloodborne viruses with a sharps injury from an infected source are summarized below in table 2:

TABLE 2

TABLE 2

Postexposure prophylaxis for HBV: The most significant change is the recommendation that health care workers who have the three-dose HBV vaccine series should be tested at 1–2 months after the third dose for anti-HBs levels; if <10 mIU/mL, they should undergo a second three-dose series. With regard to managing exposures, risk assumes a source with positive serology for HBsAg. The most efficient source of transmission is blood due to the high HBV titers compared with other body fluids. Nevertheless, most HBV-infected health care workers do not have a history of percutaneous injury, and HBV can survive in dried blood at room temperature in the environment for up to 1 week. Thus, other mechanisms of transmission may apply in the health care setting. With regard to interventions, the use of HBIG or HBV vaccine is each 70%–75% effective in preventing HBV transmission. Both HBV vaccine and HBIG appear relatively safe from side effects and can be used in pregnancy. The rate of anaphylaxis with HBV vaccine is estimated at 1/600,000 vaccine doses and is rare with HBIG, although it has been reported. HBIG provides 75% protection when given up to 1 week after postexposure prophylaxis. The utility of HBIG when started over 7 days after exposure is not known. HBV, when indicated, should be given within 24 hours and should be administered at a separate site when given simultaneously with HBIG. Details of the recommendations are summarized as follows in table 3:

TABLE 3

TABLE 3

HCV postexposure prophylaxis: The reported risk from an HCV-infected source is 1.8% with a range of 0%–7% in various reports. The following recommendations are made:

  • Anti-HCV testing of the source.
  • The exposed health care worker should have baseline anti-HCV and ALT tests; follow-up testing at 4–6 months should include anti-HCV and ALT. Testing for HCV RNA (to detect acute infection before seroconversion) may be performed at 4–6 weeks.
  • All positive results for anti-HCV should be confirmed as with the RIBA.
  • Postexposure IG is not recommended because this has not proven effective in primate studies, no protective antibody response has been identified after HCV infection, and the ACIP has concluded that IG for HCP postexposure prophylaxis is not indicated.
  • Antiviral agents (interferon with or without ribavirin) are not recommended because no trials have been done to show effectiveness, available data suggests that infection must be established before interferon can be effective, and the drugs are not FDA approved for this indication (and they have extensive side effects).

HIV postexposure prophylaxis: The new recommendations represent a rather radical departure from prior recommendations and are summarized as follows:

  • PEP should be started as soon as possible; if the delay exceeds 36 hours, expert consultation is called for.
  • Prophylaxis should be continued for 4 weeks if tolerated.
  • The exposed person should be reevaluated within 72 hours as additional information about the source is obtained—serologic status, viral load, current treatment, any resistance test results, or other factors that would modify recommendations.
  • EIA should be used to monitor for seroconversion, and this test should be performed for at least 6 months postexposure. Viral load tests are not recommended in the health care worker unless there is an illness compatible with the acute retroviral syndrome.
  • If PEP is given, the health care worker should be monitored for drug toxicity at baseline and at 2 weeks with a CBC, renal function tests, and hepatic function tests. For those receiving IDV, the tests should include urinalysis.
  • Healthcare workers are “asked to commit to behavioral measures, e.g. sexual abstinence or condom use . . . for several weeks to 2 months.” The greatest risk is during the first 6–12 weeks postexposure.
  • Female health care workers with known or possible pregnancy should be treated as anyone else, except for the selection of drugs, which should involve a discussion with her provider on benefit and risks. Efavirenz and the combination of d4T and ddI should be avoided.

Specific recommendations for postexposure prophylaxis are provided in tables 4 and 5, one for percutaneous injuries and the second for exposures to mucous membranes or non-intact skin:

TABLE 4

TABLE 4

TABLE 5

TABLE 5

Drug selection: There is now an expanded menu with multiple options for two-drug and three-drug combinations. Two-drug combinations include three dual nucleoside combinations. The three-drug regimens for higher-risk exposures include two nucleosides plus abacavir, a PI, or an NNRTI other than nevirapine. In fact, the only FDA-approved antiretroviral agents that are not listed are ddC (which is not mentioned) and nevirapine which is contraindicated. The specific recommendations are provided below:

Recommended regimens *

Two-drug combinations:

  • AZT + 3TC
  • 3TC + d4T
  • d4T + ddI

Three-drug combinations:

  • Two nucleosides (above list) + indinavir, nelfinavir, efavirenz, abacavir, ritonavir, Fortovase, amprenavir, delavirdine, or lopinavir
  • Decisions should be made based in part on information about the source including antiretroviral therapy, response to therapy including viral load, and any data on HIV resistance testing. Decisions should not delay initiation of PEP and modifications can be made.

Recommended resources for additional information by telephone or internet

Occupational exposure management resources:

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Comment.

With regard to HIV, the new guidelines include some profound changes from the prior recommendations. First, the complicated algorithms from the old guidelines proved cumbersome in application and, fortunately, have been replaced with simplified charts. Second, the choice of antiretroviral agents has been expanded substantially to include three pairs of nucleosides in the two-drug regimen as well as the use of ABC, EFV, DLV, or any PI. The only agents that are FDAapproved and not included are ddC, which is not mentioned, and nevirapine, which is contraindicated because of hepatotoxicity previously reported in health care workers. It is clear that the panel understood the complexities of drug selection which is the result of revolutionary changes in the field regarding drug selection, so guidelines are now tailored to individual circumstances based on tolerance and anticipated or proven resistance in the source strain. It is important for those selecting these regimens to be particularly aware of the hypersensitivity reactions associated with ABC and the mental status changes noted with efavirenz; both reactions are likely to occur early in the course of therapy, which is the only time that health care workers will be exposed to the drugs. It is anticipated that some of the guidelines will prove frustrating to interpret because of ambiguity of the definitions. For example, a low-risk patient is described as one with a viral load <1500 c/mL, and a high-risk patient is one with “a high viral load.” Similarly, for surface exposures, the two categories are “small volume,” described as a few drops, and “large volume,” which is described as “a major blood splash.” Thus, the majority of exposures will probably fall in a middle category that is not provided for or defined. Nevertheless, these decisions have always been based on subjective interpretation, and most will find the guidelines to be easier to follow, especially with expert assistance that is readily available through multiple sources, including the National Clinicians Postexposure Prophylaxis Hotline at 888-448-4911.

Section Description

This section represents a summary of recently published guidelines from authoritative sources (reprinted from The Johns Hopkins University AIDS website, http://www.hopkins-aids.edu, with permission).

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.