Hepatitis B Testing and Vaccination in Immigrants Attending English as a Second Language Classes in British Columbia, Canada


Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a growing health issue in Canada, especially given that populationgrowth is now largely the result of immigration. Immigrants from countries with high HBV prevalence and lowlevels of HBV vaccination have an excess risk of liver disease and there is a need for increased diligence in HBVblood testing and possibly vaccination among these populations.
Objective: This study describes thesociodemographic characteristics associated with a history of HBV testing and HBV vaccination in immigrantsfrom several countries with high HBV prevalence who are attending English classes.
Methods: 759 adultimmigrants attending English as a Second Language classes completed a self-administered questionnaire askingabout sociodemographic characteristics and history of HBV testing and HBV vaccination. Descriptive statisticsand adjusted ORs were calculated to explore these associations.
Results: 71% reported prior HBV testing, 8%reported vaccination without testing, and 21% reported neither testing nor vaccination. Age, education andcountry of birth all showed significant effects for both testing and vaccination.
Conclusions: Health carepractitioners need to be cognizant of HBV testing, and possibly vaccination, in some of their patients, includingimmigrants from countries with endemic HBV infection. Infected persons need to be identified by blood testingin order receive necessary care to prevent or delay the onset of liver disease as well as to adopt appropriatebehaviours to reduce the risk of transmission to others. Close contacts of infected persons also require HBVtesting and subsequent vaccination (if not infected) or medical management (if infected).