Viral hepatitis in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in the Netherlands: results of a community-based study in a low prevalence country
International Journal of Infectious Diseases , Volume 13 - Issue 1
Objectives: The prevalence of viral hepatitis varies worldwide. Although the prevalence of hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is generally low in Western countries, pockets of higher prevalence may exist in areas with large immigrant populations. The aim of this study was to obtain further information on the prevalence of viral hepatitis in a multi-ethnic area in the Netherlands. Methods: We conducted a community-based study in a multi-ethnic neighborhood in the city of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, including both native Dutch and migrant participants, who were tested for serological markers of hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C infection. Results: Markers for hepatitis A infection were present in 68% of participants. The prevalence of hepatitis B core antibodies (anti-HBc), a marker for previous or current infection, was 20% (58/284). Prevalence of hepatitis A and B varied by age group and ethnicity. Two respondents (0.7%) had chronic HBV infection. The prevalence of hepatitis C was 1.1% (3/271). High levels of isolated anti-HBc were found. Conclusions: We found a high prevalence of (previous) viral hepatitis infections. This confirms previous observations in ethnic subgroups from a national general population study and illustrates the high burden of viral hepatitis in areas with large immigrant populations.