1University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Institute for Health Services Research in Dermatology and Nursing, Hamburg, Germany.
2Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in Health and Welfare Services, Hamburg, Germany.
3Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and General Pathology, Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy.
4University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Institute for Health Services Research in Dermatology and Nursing, Hamburg, Germany Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in Health and Welfare Services, Hamburg, Germany.
The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of viral hepatitis C (HCV) infection among healthcare workers (HCWs) compared to the general population. A systematic search for the years 1989-2014 was conducted in the Medline, Embase and Cochrane databases. Studies on hepatitis C in HCWs were included if they incorporated either a control group or reference data for the general population. The study quality was classified as high, moderate or low. Pooled effect estimates were calculated to determine the odds of occupational infection. Heterogeneity between studies was analysed using the χ2 test (p<0.10) and quantified using the I2 test. 57 studies met our criteria for inclusion and 44 were included in the meta-analysis. Analysis of high and moderate quality studies showed a significantly increased OR for HCV infection in HCWs relative to control populations, with a value of 1.6 (95% CI 1.03 to 2.42). Stratification by study region gave an OR of 2.1 in low prevalence countries; while stratification by occupational groups gave an increased prevalence for medical (OR 2.2) and for laboratory staff (OR 2.2). The OR for professionals at high risk of blood contact was 2.7. The pooled analysis indicates that the prevalence of infection is significantly higher in HCWs than in the general population. The highest prevalence was observed among medical and laboratory staff. Prospective studies that focus on HCW-specific activity and personal risk factors for HCV infection are needed.