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CMAJ. 2001 Aug 7;165(3):293-7.

Past infection with hepatitis A virus among Vancouver street youth, injection drug users and men who have sex with men: implications for vaccination programs.

Author information

1
Vaccine Evaluation Center, British Columbia's Children's Hospital and University of British Columbia. jochnio@interchange.ubc.ca

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In Canada, inactivated hepatitis A vaccines are targeted selectively at those at increased risk for infection or its complications. In order to evaluate the need for routine hepatitis A vaccination programs in Vancouver for street youth, injection drug users (IDUs) and men who have sex with men (MSM), we determined the prevalence of antibodies against hepatitis A virus (HAV) and risk factors for HAV in these groups.

METHODS:

The frequency of past HAV infection was measured in a sample of Vancouver street youth, IDUs and MSM attending outreach and STD clinics and needle exchange facilities by testing their saliva for anti-HAV immunoglobulin G. A self-administered, structured questionnaire was used to gather sociodemographic data. Stepwise logistic regression was used to evaluate the association between presumed risk factors and groups and past HAV infection.

RESULTS:

Of 494 study participants, 235 self-reported injection drug use, 51 were self-identified as MSM and 111 met street youth criteria. Positive test results for anti-HAV were found in 6.3% of street youth (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.6%-12.6%), 42.6% (95% CI 36.2%-48.9%) of IDUs and 14.7% (95% CI 10.4%-19.1%) of individuals who denied injection drug use. Among men who denied injection drug use, the prevalence was 26.3% (10/38) for MSM and 12% (21/175) for heterosexuals. Logistic regression showed that past HAV infection was associated with increased age and birth in a country with high rates of hepatitis infection. Injection drug use among young adults (25-34 years old) was a significant risk factor for a positive anti-HAV test (p = 0.009). MSM were also at higher risk for past HAV infection, although this association was nominally significant (p = 0.07).

INTERPRETATION:

Low rates of past HAV infection among Vancouver street youth indicate a low rate of virus circulation in this population, which is vulnerable to hepatitis A outbreaks. An increased risk for HAV infection in IDUs and MSM supports the need to develop routine vaccination programs for these groups also.

PMID:
11517645
PMCID:
PMC81329
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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