Hepatitis B in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area: an integrated programme to respond to a diverse local epidemic

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Summary.Although chronic hepatitis B (CHB) affects approximately 2 million United States residents, there is no systematic screening of at-risk individuals, and most remain unaware of their hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Unmonitored and untreated, CHB results in a 25-30% risk of death from liver cancer and/or cirrhosis, inflicting an increasing healthcare burden in high-prevalence regions. Despite high prevalence in immigrant Asians and Pacific Islanders, among whom CHB is a leading cause of death, community and healthcare provider awareness remains low. Because safe and effective vaccines and effective antiviral treatments exist, there is an urgent need for integrated programmes that identify, follow and treat people with existing CHB, while vaccinating the susceptible. We describe an extant San Francisco programme that integrates culturally targeted, population-based, HBV screening, vaccination or reassurance, management and research. After screening over 3000 at-risk individuals, we here review our operational and practical experience and describe a simple, rationally designed model that could be successfully used to greatly improve the current approach to hepatitis B while ultimately reducing the related healthcare costs, especially in the high-risk populations, which are currently underserved.

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