Introduction: Mongolia has the highest liver cancer incidence in the world. Hepatocellular carcinoma is the most prevalent primary liver cancer, and the most common risk factors are hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Although viral hepatitis occurs mostly in the developing world, migration of people from high prevalence countries contributes to the health outcomes of the United States. Data on Mongolian Americans is limited. The objective of this study was to estimate HBV and HCV infection prevalence among Mongolia-born immigrants living in the Washington, District of Columbia, metropolitan area.
Methods: We tested Mongolia-born immigrants for chronic hepatitis at community-based screening events from 2016 to 2017. Descriptive statistics were generated to describe the screening results. Bivariate analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between hepatitis prevalence and sociodemographic characteristics.
Results: Of 634 participants, most did not speak English primarily, were uninsured, and did not have a regular primary care provider. Eighty-two participants (12.9%) had chronic HBV or HCV infection after accounting for HBV and HCV co-infection. Thirty-nine (6.2%) were chronically infected with HBV, and 233 (36.8%) were susceptible to HBV. Sixty-three (9.9%) participants were positive for HCV exposure, and 45 (7.1%) had confirmed chronic HCV infection. While no sociodemographic characteristics were associated with HBV infection, age and primary spoken language (Mongolian) were significantly associated with HCV exposure.
Conclusion: Foreign-born immigrants such as Mongolian Americans have a high prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis infection. Targeted screening, vaccination, and treatment programs can help decrease immigrant risk for developing hepatocellular carcinoma.