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Home Topics Infectious Diseases Infections A-Z Bloodborne Viruses (BBVs) and Occupational Exposure General Information ›  Reporting of occupational exposure to bloodborne viruses - history and how to report

Reporting of occupational exposure to bloodborne viruses - history and how to report

The first documented seroconversion to HIV from an occupational exposure occurred in the UK. Following this surveillance of healthcare workers (HCWs) was initiated in 1984. From the first of July 1997 an enhanced surveillance system was launched for England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections (HPA CfI). Health Protection Scotland started the equivalent for Scotland. Reports are sent voluntarily and confidentially from occupational health departments, genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics, microbiologists, virologists and infection control nurses. Exposures to HIV, hepatitis C (HCV), hepatitis B (HBV), and where the source status is unknown but the HCW starts HIV PEP, are included.

  • At six-weeks, follow-up on exposures is requested. Information is sought on the location, procedure and circumstances surrounding the exposure. The prescription and compliance aspects of PEP are sought at this time.
  • At six-months follow-up is sought on testing patterns and serological outcome data.

National surveillance of occupational exposure to bloodborne viruses in healthcare workers - Information Sheet

The HPA CfI seeks to monitor the transmission of HIV, HCV and HBV from patients to health care workers. We need your help to record all cases of significant occupational exposure to the blood or body fluid from patients who are anti-HIV positive, anti-HCV positive, or HBsAg positive.

One of the main aims is to assess the numbers of health care workers being exposed to these viruses. We therefore need accurate data about all significant occupational exposures which are, incidents of percutaneous exposure (where the skin has been cut or penetrated by a needle or other sharp object) or mucocutaneous exposure (contamination of the mouth, nose, eyes or non intact skin) with blood or other body fluids involving patients known, or subsequently found to be, infected with HIV, HCV, or HepBsAg. We would also ask you to report all incidents where post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for HIV has been commenced whatever the HIV status of the source is.

The initial report form (A4 size) consists of two pieces of self carbonated paper. The top copy (perforated for removal) should be returned to the HPA CfI HIV and Sexually Transmitted Infections Department at the address on the base of the form. The second sheet (not perforated) should be retained for your records. The card is for use between sets of forms to prevent multiple copies being made.

The Unique Incident Identifier must be completed by your department. The code will be used to protect the anonymity of the health care worker involved. It should be a code which will enable you to relocate details of the incident and person involved. If we should require further information about a particular incident we will refer to your cases only by the Unique Incident Identifier.

We wish to assess the circumstances contributing to significant occupational exposures. The clinical management of those exposures, including in the case of HIV patients, whether the health care worker had post exposure prophylaxis, what the side effects were and the outcomes. A six-week follow-up form and a six-month one will be sent to you to gather these data.

This surveillance has been funded by the Health and Safety Executive, and Department of Health. We have been receiving reports from hospitals in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, mainly through their occupational health departments. Every report is important to the surveillance.

Sarah Tomkins Dr Fortune Ncube

Scientist (Epidemiology)
Tel 020 8327 7095

Consultant Epidemiologist
Tel 020 8327 6423/6446

For an example of the initial report form, please click on the link below:

Surveillance of Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Viruses – Initial Report (PDF, 30 KB)

Last reviewed: 5 December 2012