Prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis in people of south Asian ethnicity living in England: the prevalence cannot necessarily be predicted from the prevalence in the country of origin

J Viral Hepat. 2010 May;17(5):327-35. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2009.01240.x. Epub 2009 Dec 9.


The prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in immigrant communities is unknown. Immigrants from south Asia are common in England and elsewhere, and the burden of viral hepatitis in these communities is unknown. We aimed to determine the prevalence of viral hepatitis in immigrants from south Asia living in England, and we therefore undertook a community-based testing project in such people at five sites in England. A total of 4998 people attending community centres were screened for viral hepatitis using oral fluid testing. The overall prevalence of anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) in people of south Asian origin was 1.6% but varied by country of birth being 0.4%, 0.2%, 0.6% and 2.7% in people of this ethnic group born in the UK, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively. The prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen was 1.2%-0.2%, 0.1%, 1.5% and 1.8% in people of this ethnic group born in the UK, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively. Analysis of risk factors for HCV infection shows that people from the Pakistani Punjab and those who have immigrated recently are at increased risk of infection. Our study suggests that migrants from Pakistan are at highest risk of viral hepatitis, with those from India at low risk. As prevalence varies both by country and region of origin and over time, the prevalence in migrant communities living in western countries cannot be easily predicted from studies in the country of origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / analysis
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / ethnology*
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / analysis
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Young Adult


  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies