Introduction and objectives: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is endemic in Lao PDR, with up to 10% chronic infections in adults. Dentists have high risk of exposure and transmission to their patients. The aim was to investigate the serological profiles of vaccination, exposure and susceptibility to HBV. In addition, we determined the knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) of Lao dentists toward HBV. Materials and methods: Dentists and dental assistants were recruited from 186 private dental clinics in Vientiane Capital. They completed a KAP questionnaire and serum was tested by ELISA for HBV markers (anti-HB surface antigen, anti-core antigen, HBV surface antigen). Results: 206 dentists and 111 dental workers aged between 18–63 years were included. Serology data showed that 37.8% had previous exposure (49.0% of males and 32.4% of females) and 5.0% were chronically infected (7.7% of males and 3.8% of females). Less than 15% had serological evidence of vaccination and 66.8% were unprotected against infection. Knowledge of HBV was mostly low, for example 61.8% were aware of the childhood HBV vaccine. Just over half said that they should give dental care to HBV carriers. About one quarter reported accidental blood exposure during the last 6 months but knowledge about procedures after exposure was low. Conclusions: Lao dentists are at high risk of occupational exposure to HBV but have low awareness and serological protection. There is a need to introduce mandatory vaccination, to strengthen occupational health in health care providers and to further develop the academic curricula of dental students.
- Hepatitis B virus