Introduction Chronic HBV (cHBV) and HCV (cHCV) are frequent causes of cirrhosis and liver cancer. cHBV and cHCV are prevalent in subjects from South Asian countries and many infected individuals are unaware of their condition. A previous case finding pilot for HBV in the British–Chinese community of the NE of England found that 9% of subjects tested were HBsAg positive.1 Targeted screening for HBV and HCV is recommended by the AASLD2 and the European Liver Patients Association3 in subjects born in endemic areas (HBsAg prevalence ≥2%). However, there are no current UK guidelines. Our aim was to apply AASLD recommendations to British South Asian community of NE of England.
Methods Members of the NE South Asian community were invited to attend screening sessions at a Newcastle Mosque and the Sunderland Bangladeshi Community Centre. Dry blood spots were obtained by finger prick and tested for HBsAg, HBcAb (Abbott ARCHITECT®) and HCV antibody (Roche + confirmed by Biorad). HBsAg and/or HCV Ab positive individuals were advised to undergo confirmatory testing and be referred for specialist assessment.
Results To date, 329 subjects were screened in four sessions (median age 39, range 6–83; 75% male). The screened subjects were most frequently born in Bangladesh (49%) followed by Pakistan (36%), the UK (14%) or other countries (6%). 1.8% of subjects were HBsAg positive indicating cHBV. 2.8% of subjects had past infection with HBV (HBsAg negative, HBcAb positive). 1% of subjects were HCV Ab positive (all born in Pakistan). The prevalence of cHBV was 3% for individuals born in Pakistan and 1.5% for those born in Bangladesh. 3% of individuals born in Pakistan were HCV Ab positive. Only 4% of subjects reported previous vaccination against HBV.
Conclusion Undiagnosed cHBV is prevalent in the South Asian community of NE England, although the prevalence was lower than in the British–Chinese community. These results provide evidence for a targeted case finding programme for HBV and HCV in subjects born in South Asia.
Funding This study was supported by a Gilead UK and Ireland Fellowship and Livernorth.
Competing interests None declared.
References 1. McPherson S, et al. Gut 2011;60(Supp 2):A25.
2. Lok A, McMahon B. Hepatology 2009;50:1–36.
3. Piorkowsky N. J Hepatol 2009;51:1068–73.
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