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Travel Med Infect Dis. 2003 Feb;1(1):29-33.

A review of the infection control policies for bloodborne viruses as applied to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

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Specialist Registrar in Public Health Medicine, Leeds Health Authority, Leeds, UK.


Objective. To review the policies that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) operate to protect their personnel from bloodborne viral infection, e.g. human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis B and C. Design. Semi-structured postal questionnaire. Methods. During July 2000 a questionnaire was sent to 42 aid organisations. A telephone call was made to all the organisations before the questionnaire was sent to identify the correct addressee. A reminder telephone call was made 4 weeks later and a repeat questionnaire was sent to non-responders. Twenty six questionnaires were returned, giving a response rate of 62%. Results. Pre-departure, 12% of organisations supplied no information to expatriate personnel about the risks of exposure to bloodborne viruses. 54% of NGOs did not evaluate the hepatitis B vaccination status of their expatriate personnel pre-departure. Twenty four percent and 16% of NGOs supplied HIV or hepatitis B post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), respectively, in the country where the programme was situated or at regional headquarters. Twelve percent of organisations reported having to use HIV PEP at sometime during the organisation's history. Two organisations (8%) reported having members of staff infected with either HIV of hepatitis while working overseas. Eighty nine percent of NGOs indicated they would welcome guidelines for the use of HIV and hepatitis B PEP for their employees. Conclusion. There appears to be a lack of awareness and planning among NGOs regarding the dangers that bloodborne viral infections pose to their personnel. There are few infection control policies in place and those that are appear inadequate.

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