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Keywords:

  • community-based screening;
  • Egypt;
  • first-generation migrants;
  • HBV ;
  • HCV

Abstract

Background

Egypt has high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and intermediate prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection; however, infection prevalence among Egyptian migrants is unknown. Considering the asymptomatic onset and development of disease in chronically-infected patients, many may remain undiagnosed.

Aims

To evaluate an HCV- and HBV-screening programme designed to identify undetected infections among first-generation Egyptian migrants in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Methods

In 2009 and 2010, viral hepatitis educational and screening sessions were established at Egyptian meeting places. Data regarding demographics and HCV risk factors were collected. Chronically infected participants were referred and followed up. Phylogenetic analyses were used to ascertain the geographic origin of infections.

Results

Eleven of 465 (2.4%; 95% CI = 1.3–4.2%) migrants had HCV antibodies; 10/11 were HCV RNA positive. All had genotype 4a, and strains were typical of those of Egypt and the Middle East. Older age and exposure to parenteral antischistosomal therapy (PAT) were significantly associated with HCV. Anti-HBc prevalence was 16.8% (95% CI = 13.7–20.4%); HBsAg prevalence was 1.1% (95% CI = 0.5–2.5%). All had genotype D, typical of those of the Middle East. Most (9/10 HCV; 3/5 HBV) chronic infections were newly diagnosed; four of the HCV-infected individuals started treatment.

Conclusions

Anti-HCV and HBsAg prevalence among Egyptian migrants was lower compared with the general Egyptian population, but higher than the general population of Western countries. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that all infections were from the region of origin. HCV-screening programmes should target first-generation Egyptian migrants, especially those of older age and those who received PAT.