, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 42-46,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 08 Jun 2010

Prevalence of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) Infection Among Hmong Immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley

Abstract

Chronic hepatitis B infection (HBV) is the major cause of primary liver cancer worldwide and Asians are disproportionately affected. The prevalence of HBV among most Asian American groups has been well documented, except in Hmong immigrants in the United States. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of HBV among Hmong immigrants in the San Joaquin Valley of California. A convenient sample of 534 Hmong age ≥18 years was recruited at various locations throughout Fresno County. Blood samples from study participants were collected and tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) by enzyme-immunoassay. Two hundred and eighty-nine females and 245 males of Hmong descent (mean age, 43.93) were screened. Eighty-nine (41 males and 48 females) were positive for HBsAg, which accounts for a prevalence of 16.7% (95% C.I. 13.5–19.9). The majorities of HBsAg positive patients were ≥40 years (64.2%), married (66.7%), born in Laos (87.3%), and had lived in the United States ≥20 years (62.5%). Only 37.5% of the participants reported having a primary care physician. Our study revealed that approximately one out of every six Hmong immigrants screened was infected with HBV. Based on our findings, more than one-third of these infected patients have no primary care physician to provide further treatment, surveillance for liver cancer, or vaccination of their families. This supports the Institute of Medicine’s recent recommendations to the Center for Disease Control to engage in a national Hepatitis B surveillance system.