Hepatitis B virus infection among refugees resettled in the U.S.: high prevalence and challenges in access to health care

J Immigr Minor Health. 2010 Dec;12(6):823-7. doi: 10.1007/s10903-010-9335-7.

Abstract

Hepatitis B virus infection (HBV) remains highly endemic in many parts of the world. Refugees resettling in their host countries may carry a significant burden of disease due to HBV and may require long-term medical care. A retrospective descriptive study was conducted to assess the epidemiology of HBV and entry into medical care in refugee communities resettled in the State of Georgia over a five-year period: 2003-2007. Among 6,347 refugees (89.7% of those resettled) screened for HBV infection, six hundred and eighty (10.7%) were found to be HBsAg seropositive. Those between the ages of 10-39 years of age contributed to the majority of cases; and most originated from Africa (71%). All HBsAg positive cases were adequately referred to a primary care physician for further management but there are no formal feedback mechanisms in place to learn if those who tested positive for HBsAg accessed the primary healthcare system. HBV infection is a frequent infection among refugees resettled in the US. but their entry into healthcare to treat those with chronic infection is often unknown. Further efforts are required to assure their entry into the healthcare system. Primary care physicians caring for refugee patients should think about verifying HBV-infection status as part of health maintenance protocols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa / ethnology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Georgia / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology
  • Hepatitis B / ethnology*
  • Hepatitis B virus / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Refugees*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult