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Doctor-to-patient transmission of hepatitis B virus: the potential of antiviral therapy for prevention.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected health-care workers (HCWs) have infected patients during medical procedures. In many countries HBV-infected HCWs are restricted in performing exposure prone procedures based on either HBeAg status or serum HBV DNA level. To prevent loss of skilled HCWs and to minimize transmission risk, highly viraemic HCWs can be offered antiviral therapy. Nucleoside analogues have proven to be effective in reducing transmission of HIV and HBV in the setting of vertical mother-to-infant transmission. Following the same rationale, suppression of viral load in HBV-infected HCWs could minimize the risk of doctor-to-patient transmission to such an extent that job modifications are no longer indicated. To limit the risk of drug resistance, the use of combination therapy is advocated. We describe two chronic HBV-infected HCWs treated with antiviral therapy, eventually leading to well-tolerated and highly effective combination therapy with lamivudine and tenofovir, with continuation of medical practice.

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