Hepatitis B screening and prevalence among resettled refugees - United States, 2006-2011.
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<p>Globally, more than two billion persons have been infected at some time with the hepatitis B virus (HBV), and approximately 3.5 million refugees have chronic HBV infection. The endemicity of HBV varies by region. Because chronic hepatitis B is infectious and persons with chronic infection benefit from treatment, CDC recommends screening for HBV among all refugees who originate in countries where the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg; a marker for acute or chronic infection) is ≥2% or who are at risk for HBV because of personal characteristics such as injection drug use or household contact with an individual with HBV infection. Currently, almost all refugees are routinely screened for hepatitis B. However, prevalence rates of HBV infection in refugee populations recently resettled in the United States have not been determined. A multisite, retrospective study was performed to evaluate the prevalence of past HBV infection, current infection, and immunity among refugees resettled in the United States; to better characterize the burden of hepatitis B in this population; and to inform screening recommendations. The study incorporated surveillance data from a large state refugee health program and chart reviews from three U.S. sites that conduct medical screenings of refugees. The prevalence of HBV infection (current or past as determined by available titer levels) varied among refugees originating in different countries and was higher among Burmese refugees than among refugees from Bhutan or Iraq. Current or past HBV infection was also higher among adults (aged >18 years) and male refugees. These data might help inform planning by states and resettlement agencies, as well as screening decisions by health care providers.</p>
MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep.