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Updated June 30, 2004

Case 4: Exposure to Hepatitis C Virus

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David H. Spach, MD Margaret C. Shuhart, MD, MS

A 35-year-old physician has a needle-stick injury while placing a central venous line in a patient co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C virus. The needlestick involved a hollow-bore needle that had visible blood on it, and it clearly penetrated the physician’s right palm. The source patient has chronic active hepatitis C virus with a hepatitis C viral load of 3,400,000 copies/ml and has genotype 1A.

Which of the following is TRUE regarding the physician’s exposure to hepatitis C virus in this setting?

A Most health care workers who seroconvert to hepatitis C virus do not have an obvious clinical seroconversion illness.
B Postexposure prophylaxis should include intravenous gamma globulin.
C The risk of acquiring hepatitis C virus is approximately 0.3%.
D The risk of transmission of hepatitis C virus is approximately twice as high with genotype 1 than genotype 2.