HBV: Community-Based Programs May Improve Care

Larry Hand

May 09, 2014

Community outreach programs, helped along by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), may be improving the screening, treatment, and care of patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, according to an article published in the May 9 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Geoff A. Beckett, MPH, from the Division of Viral Hepatitis, CDC, Atlanta, Georgia, and colleagues describe 3 of 9 programs the CDC has supported in New York City; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; and San Diego, California, to expand testing and treating of HBV.

Between October 2012 and March 2014, the programs tested 4727 individuals for HBV infection and found that 310 (6.6%) tested positive, report Beckett, who is also part of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, and colleagues.

Of those patients testing positive, program members informed 94% of their results, counseled 90% of them, and referred 86% for care. In addition, 66% of the patients testing positive actually attended their first care session.

At the African Services Committee, a community-based program in Harlem, New York, the efforts originally served primarily uninsured West African immigrants in their native languages, but the staff expanded access to the Asian-American community.

The Minneapolis Refugee Health Program performs health screenings, including for HBV, for newly arrived refugees. Of 1800 refugees tested, 84% were from Burma (Myanmar) and Somalia.

At the University of California at San Diego program, Southeast Asians were the primary population served. The program provided testing to persons born in 31 different countries, but 67% of positive-testing individuals came from Vietnam or the Philippines.

Among the limitations for this analysis is an underrepresentation of East Asians, who comprise "a substantial proportion of the foreign-born population originating in countries with intermediate to high HBV infection prevalence," the researchers write. In addition, medical visits were patient self-reported by individuals with whom it was difficult to maintain contact.

"Outreach, counseling, and patient navigation activities in these populations require intensive effort and use of human resources," the researchers write.

However, they conclude, "Individualized efforts to assist patients with accessing and receiving health-care services ('patient navigation services') can increase the number of persons who follow up on referrals and receive recommended care."

Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014;63:399-401. Full text


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