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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
July 14, 2020

Connecting Refugees With Follow-up Care for Hepatitis B

JAMA. 2020;324(2):129. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.10632

Improved efforts are needed to connect newly arrived refugees who test positive for hepatitis B virus (HBV) with medical care in the US, according to a CDC report.

The CDC recommends HBV testing for refugees if they’re from countries where the prevalence was at least 2% or they’re in a high risk group. For those who test positive, the CDC recommends referral to a gastroenterologist or hepatologist. About 15% to 25% of untreated adults who were infected early in life develop liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma, the authors wrote. Yet a review of laboratory tests and follow-up care from 2006 to 2018 at 3 refugee screening sites found low referral rates at 2 sites. Among patients who initially were linked with care, not many still received ongoing or optimal care.