Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Occupational exposure to blood, hepatitis B vaccine knowledge and uptake among medical students in Cameroon

Jean Jacques N Noubiap12*, Jobert Richie N Nansseu13, Karen K Kengne1, Shalom Tchokfe Ndoula14 and Lucy A Agyingi5

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University of Yaoundé I, Yaoundé, Cameroon

2 Internal Medicine Unit, Edéa Regional Hospital, PO Box 100, Edéa, Cameroon

3 Mother and Child Centre, Chantal Biya Foundation, Yaoundé, Cameroon

4 Guidiguis Health District, Guidiguis, Cameroon

5 Faculty of Science, University of Dschang, Dschang, Cameroon

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:148  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-148

Published: 8 November 2013



Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the most contagious blood borne pathogen. The risk of occupational exposure to HBV among health care workers is a major concern, especially medical trainees. In this study we describe the knowledge of risk factors for HBV infection, history of accidental exposure to blood, awareness of HBV vaccine and the vaccination status among medical students in Cameroon.


In April 2012, a cross-sectional survey was carried out using a pretested self-administered questionnaire among 111 medical students.


Sixty-two students (55.9%) had had at least one accidental exposure to blood since the beginning of their medical training, with a median of 2 (IQR, 1-3) exposures. There was a good knowledge of the risk factors for HBV infection and awareness of HBV vaccine among participants. However, only 20 (18%) participants had completed the three doses of primary HBV vaccination. Furthermore, only 2 of the 20 (10%) adequately vaccinated participants had a post-vaccination test to confirm a good immune response and thus an effective protection against HBV infection. The main reason for not being vaccinated was lack of money to pay for the vaccine (45.6%). Forty seven (42.3%) participants had been sensitized by their training institutions about the importance of HBV vaccination. These were more likely to be vaccinated compared to those who had not been sensitized (p<0,001).


There is a high rate of accidental exposure to blood and a very low HBV vaccination uptake in medical students in Cameroon, leading to a high occupational risk of HBV infection. HBV vaccination should be strongly recommended for medical students and the vaccine made available free of charge at the beginning of their training.

Hepatitis B vaccine; Accidental exposure to blood; Medical students; Cameroon