Targeted case finding for hepatitis B using dry blood spot testing in the British–Chinese and South Asian populations of the North-East of England

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Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a frequent cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Targeted HBV screening is recommended by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention for subjects born in countries with >2% HBV prevalence. However, there are no UK guidelines. Here, we applied the (CDC) recommendations to the British–Chinese and British–South Asian community of North-East (NE) England. British–Chinese and South Asian subjects were invited to attend for HBV education and screening sessions held in community centres. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis B core total antibody (HBcAb) were tested with dry blood spot tests. South Asians were also tested for hepatitis C antibody (HCVAb). A total of 1126 subjects (606 Chinese and 520 South Asian) were screened. Sixty-two (5.5%) were HBsAg positive. Ten of these reported a previous diagnosis of HBV. The prevalence of HBsAg positivity was 4.6% when previously diagnosed individuals were excluded. The HBsAg prevalence was significantly higher in the Chinese subjects compared with South Asians (8.7% VS. 1.7% P < 0.001). In Chinese subjects, HBsAg positivity was highest in subjects born in Vietnam (17.4%), followed by China (11%), Hong Kong (7.8%) and the UK (6.7%). Subjects from Pakistan had the highest HBsAg and HCV Ab prevalence in the South Asians (3.1% and 1.8%, respectively). Ten percentage of HBsAg positive patients who had follow-up assessment had active disease requiring antiviral treatment. Undiagnosed HBV infection was above the 2% threshold for screening suggested by the CDC in the British–Chinese and Pakistani community of NE England, which provides evidence for a UK HBV-targeted screening programme.

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