Objective: To describe an outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection that occurred in Melbourne in 1991.
Design: (i) We reviewed Health Department Victoria surveillance data from 1989 to 1991 (primary surveillance) and identified all notified cases of HAV infection with an onset of illness between 1 January and 31 December 1991 (secondary surveillance data). (ii) We studied HAV seroprevalence in Melbourne among homosexual men attending gay venues.
Results: (i) In the two years 1989-1990 there were only 55 notifications of HAV infection to Health Department Victoria, with a male:female ratio of 1.2:1. Of the 495 notifications for 1991, 407 (82%) were male, of whom 210 (52%) were known to be homosexual. Many reported sexual and social contact at Melbourne's gay venues and with the Sydney gay community. (ii) Of men attending gay venues, 27% had serological evidence of past infection with HAV, compared with 45.8% in a 1981 Melbourne study.
Conclusion: The outbreak of HAV infection in Victoria largely affected homosexual males in their sexually active years. Contact with the Sydney gay community was commonly reported.