Dr Jenny Firman1
1Principal Medical Adviser, Office of Health Protection, Australian Government Department of Health, MDP 14, PO Box 9848, Canberra ACT 2601, Australia
The current Australian National Guidelines for the Management of Health Care Workers known to be Infected with Blood-Borne Viruses from the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA) was published in April 2012. Since then there have been a number of advances in treatment and testing of blood borne viruses that has led to a revision of these guidelines by CDNA following a lengthy consultation and endorsement process.
New and updated guidelines are now complete and are aimed at the prevention of transmission from, and the management and treatment of, healthcare workers (HCWs) with hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and/or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The Guidelines outline the professional standard expected of HCWs who perform exposure prone procedures (EPPs), HCWs living with a blood borne virus (BBV) who perform exposure prone procedures, and doctors treating HCWs with a BBV who perform EPPs. The Guidelines will allow HCWs living with HIV who comply with these guidelines to return to performing EPPs (excluded in the current guidelines). A table outlining exposure prone procedures has been developed to assist HCWs in assessing whether they perform EPPs and if they require testing and a number of fact sheets have also been provided.
The Guidelines support healthcare workers to get timely testing and treatment. All healthcare workers who are performing EPPs are required to take reasonable steps to know their BBV status and to have appropriate and timely testing after potential exposures.