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There is no clear justification for or benefit from routine notification of the HBV infection status of a health-care provider to his or her patient with the exception of instances in which an infected provider transmits HBV to one or more patients or documented instances in which a provider exposes a patient to a bloodborne infection. Routine mandatory disclosure might actually be counterproductive to public health, as providers and students might perceive that a positive test would lead to loss of practice or educational opportunities. This misperception might lead to avoidance of HBV testing, of hepatitis B vaccination (if susceptible), of treatment and management (if infected), or of compliance with practice oversight from an expert panel (if infected and practicing exposure-prone procedures). In general, a requirement for disclosure is accepted to be an insurmountable barrier to practice and might limit patient and community access to quality medical care.


Excerpt from: SHEA Guideline for Management of Healthcare Workers
Who Are Infected with Hepatitis B Virus, Hepatitis C Virus,
and/or Human Immunodeficiency Virus





  1. HIV
    SHEA recommends that HIV-infected providers who have circulating HIV viral burdens of greater than or equal to 5 x 102 GE/mL routinely use double-gloving for all invasive procedures, for all contact with mucous membranes or non-intact skin, and for all instances in patient care for which gloving is recommended, and that they not perform those Category III activities identified as associated with a risk for provider-to-patient transmission of bloodborne pathogen infection despite the use of appropriate infection control procedures (Tables 1 and 2). SHEA recommends that an HIV-infected provider who has a viral burden of less than 5 x 102 GE/mL not be excluded from any aspect of patient care, including the performance of Category III procedures, so long as the infected provider (1) is not detected as having transmitted infection to patients; (2) obtains advice from an Expert Review Panel about continued practice; (3) undergoes follow-up routinely by Occupational Medicine (or an appropriate public health official), who tests the provider twice annually to demonstrate the maintenance of a viral burden of less than 5 x 102 GE/mL; (4) also receives follow-up by a personal physician who has expertise in the management of HIV infection and who is allowed by the provider to communicate with the Expert Review Panel about the provider's clinical status; (5) consults with an expert about optimal infection control procedures (and strictly adheres to the recommended procedures, including the routine use of double-gloving for Category II and Category III procedures and frequent glove changes during procedures, particularly if performing technical tasks known to compromise glove integrity [eg, placing sterna wires]); and (6) agrees to the information in and signs a contract or letter from the Expert Review Panel that characterizes her or his responsibilities (discussed in more detail in Recommendation 8, below).
  2. General Recommendations
    The rationale for these recommendations is presented below (in the section Background and Rationale). SHEA argues for comprehensive education concerning bloodborne pathogens for all healthcare providers and trainees. SHEA recommends managing infected providers in the context of comprehensive approach to the management of all impaired providers. SHEA emphasizes the importance of patient safety as well as provider privacy and medical confidentiality. The society also emphasizes the importance of offering employees who have disabilities reasonable accommodation for their disabilities. The guideline discusses exposure management in detail and, in general, recommends adherence to existing guidelines for managing exposures to these viruses. SHEA underscores that practitioners who are institutionally based and who develop one of these bloodborne pathogen infections are ethically bound to report their infections to their institutions' occupational medicine providers and to engage in the process outlined below. Further, practitioners who are not institutionally based and who develop one of these bloodborne pathogen infections are ethically bound to engage their public health departments (consonant with state and local laws), as described below. Finally, the society encourages routine voluntary, confidential testing of providers, emphasizing that providers who conduct Category III procedures should know their immune status with respect to each of these 3 bloodborne pathogens. Specific details and the rationale for these recommendations are included in the body of the guideline.