Screening for chronic hepatitis B and C in migrants from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the former Soviet Republics, and Vietnam in the Arnhem region, The Netherlands

Epidemiol Infect. 2014 Oct;142(10):2140-6. doi: 10.1017/S0950268813003415. Epub 2014 Jan 7.


Migrants born in hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) endemic countries are at increased risk of being infected with these viruses. The first symptoms may arise when liver damage has already occurred. The challenge is to identify these infections early, since effective treatment has become available. In 2011 we conducted a screening project in first-generation migrants (FGMs) born in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, the former Soviet Republics, and Vietnam and living in Arnhem and Rheden. All participants were offered free blood screening for HBV and HCV. In total 959 participants were tested, with the country of origin known for 927, equating to 28·7% of all registered FGMs from the chosen countries. Nineteen percent (n = 176) had serological signs of past or chronic HBV infection and 2·2% (n = 21) had chronic HBV infection. The highest prevalence of chronic HBV infection was found in the Vietnamese population (9·5%, n = 12). Chronic HCV was found in two persons from the former Soviet Republics and one from Vietnam. Twenty-four percent (n = 5) of the newly identified patients with chronic HBV and one of the three patients with chronic HCV received treatment. Three of the patients, two with HCV and one with HBV, already had liver cirrhosis. The highest (9·5%) HBV prevalence was found in FGMs from Vietnam, indicating a high need for focusing on that particular immigrant population in order to identify more people with silent HBV infection. The fact that three patients already had liver cirrhosis underlines the necessity of early identification of HBV and HCV infection in risk groups.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Afghanistan / ethnology
  • Early Medical Intervention
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis B, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / complications
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Iran / ethnology
  • Iraq / ethnology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • USSR / ethnology
  • Vietnam / ethnology
  • Young Adult