Community-based hepatitis B screening programs in the United States in 2008
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) testing to identify hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection for foreign-born persons from areas with HBsAg prevalence of ?2%. Currently, most HBsAg screening in the United States is performed by independent community organizations. For these HBsAg screening programs, we collected information about the location, number of people screened, other services beyond screening provided, the population/ethnicity groups targeted for screening, and the prevalence of HBsAg among those screened. We identified programs offering screening by contacting programs known to us, from interviews with identified programs, and from structured Internet searches, and collected information using a simple e-mail survey with follow-up phone calls. We identified 55 possible community HBsAg screening programs, of which we successfully contacted 31 programs. In the past year, contacted programs screened an estimated 21 817 patients with an 8.1% average HBsAg prevalence. The majority of programs screened persons born in Asia and their children, and a small number of programs screened persons from Africa or Eastern Europe; very few programs screened U.S.-born persons at risk of HBV infection due to behavioural factors. We identified few or no programs in the American Southeast, the Midwest, and the Southwest outside of California and the Houston area. The HBsAg screening programs that we contacted were effective in identifying and screening patients at risk of HBV as evidenced by the high prevalence observed among those screened. However, their efforts alone are likely insufficient to meet the need for screening recommended by CDC.