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HCV Prevalence Higher Among Asian-Americans, Study of Community Primary Care Clinic Finds

May 22, 2013

Researchers found a higher prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among Asian-Americans compared to the non-Asians attending a free community clinic. Mindie Nguyen, MD, associate professor of medicine at Stanford University, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study to determine whether Asian-Americans have a higher HCV prevalence similar to that in their countries of origin.

The researchers studied patients seen from July 2011 to October 2012 at a free community primary care clinic that recommended HCV screening for all patients seeking routine treatment. The researchers reviewed patients' medical records for clinical and risk factor data. The clinic screened 436 of 691 consecutive patients for HCV with antibody testing. Of these, 14 tested positive; 11 of the 14 were Asians. This resulted in an HCV prevalence of 4.5 percent for Asians compared with a prevalence of 1.6 percent for non-Asians. Two of the three non-Asians with HCV had a history of illicit drug use. Among the Asians, one had a history of illicit drug use, one had a history of blood transfusion, and four patients had unknown risk factors. The other five Asians had a history of prior surgery and uncertain risk factors. Also, most of the Asians with HCV were foreign-born.

The researchers concluded that HCV prevalence among the Asian-Americans was similar to the reported prevalence in many Asian countries. Nguyen suggested that, given the high prevalence, foreign-born Asians coming from endemic areas of Asia should receive HCV screening similar to the screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) that CDC currently recommends for people coming from areas with HBV prevalence of 2 percent or higher.

The full report, "High Prevalence of Hepatitis C Virus Infection (HCV) in Asian Americans in a Community Primary Care Clinic," was presented at Digestive Disease Week, May 18-21, 2013, in Orlando, Florida.

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