Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a potentially deadly viral infection that can lead to liver cancer. Many refugee immigrants resettled in the US come from countries known to have a high prevalence of HBV infections. Unfortunately, most infected refugee immigrants are unaware of their HBV status. The disease is highly preventable through a vaccine, but chronic HBV is incurable once the disease has developed. For the purposes of this cross-sectional study, we conducted analysis of data collected through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) to assess HBV awareness, vaccination status, screening, and infection among multiethnic, primarily refugee, immigrant populations living in North Texas. Overall, 74% of study participants reported having heard about HBV, but only 31% knew their HBV status. Whereas 69% of study participants lacked awareness about their HBV status and self-reported prevalence of chronic HBV among study participants was 4%. For the vaccine, only 26% reported to have received at least one dose; 53% did not know, while 21% had not ever received it. For those unaware of their HBV status, the BBI offered participants free HBV screening and assistance for vaccination as needed. 76% of participants that accepted HBV screening from BBI were never screened before (enrollment in BBI). Chronic HBV positivity rate for participants was 6%, which is twenty times higher than the national prevalence of chronic HBV (0.3%). High prevalence of HBV, low awareness and low vaccination rates seen in this study highlights the need for increased HBV prevention among foreign born populations.
- Hepatitis B