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Public Health Reports: Susceptibility to Hepatitis A and B Virus Among Clients at a Syringe Services Program in Philadelphia, 2018

In an article in Public Health Reports, Ms. Mary Figgatt, Mr. Jack Hildick-Smith, Ms. Eman Addish, Ms. Danica Kuncio, and Drs. Steven Alles, Kendra Viner, and Caroline Johnson of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Ms. Jennie Coleman and Mr. José Benitez of Prevention Point Philadelphia, and Ms. Catherine Freeland of the Hepatitis B Foundation sought to identify the prevalence of and characteristics associated with hepatitis A virus (HAV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) susceptibility among people who use drugs attending an urban syringe services program. The study was conducted in 2018 and utilized 438 clients of a syringe services program who met study criteria, including provision of a blood specimen and a self-reported history of drug use. HAV and HBV susceptibility and infection were assessed via serological testing. Associations between participant characteristics and serology status were examined by using descriptive statistics and multivariable logistic regression models. Of the initial 438 clients identified, 80.6 percent met study criteria. Of 352 participants with conclusive HAV test results, 48.6 percent were HAV susceptible; of 337 participants with conclusive HBV test results, 32.6 percent were HBV susceptible, 24.3 percent showed evidence of past or present HBV infection, and 43.0 percent had vaccine-derived immunity. Decreased odds of HAV susceptibility were associated with homelessness. The authors concluded that despite applicable HAV and HBV vaccination recommendations, substantial gaps exist in HAV and HBV susceptibility among a population of people who use drugs. These findings highlight the need for increased HAV and HBV vaccination efforts among people who use drugs.


Full article.

Published since 1878, Public Health Reports (PHR) is the official journal of the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. It is published bimonthly, plus supplement issues, through an official agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. The journal is peer-reviewed and publishes original research, reviews, and commentaries related to public health practice and methodology, public health law, and teaching at schools and programs of public health. Journal issues include regular commentaries by the U.S. Surgeon General and the executives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health.

The journal focuses on such topics as disease surveillance, infectious and chronic diseases, occupational disease and injury, immunization, health disparities, substance use disorders, tobacco use, and many other key and emerging public health concerns. In addition to its 6 regular issues, PHR produces supplemental issues approximately 2-5 times per year, focusing on specific topics of interest to its readership. The journal’s contributors are on the front lines of public health and present their work in a readable and accessible format.

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