Assessment of a large cohort of hepatitis C virus (HCV)–infected patients revealed a high prevalence of current or past hepatitis B virus. However, within this cohort, there were notable gaps in HBV testing, directed care, and vaccination, according to Aaron M. Harris, MD, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Betty Partin/CDC

This negatively stained transmission electron micrograph revealed the presence of numerous hepatitis B virus virions, also known as Dane particles.

Dr. Harris and his colleagues abstracted patient-level data from the Grady Health System EHR in August 2016 to create an HCV patient registry. They found that, among 4,224 HCV-infected patients, 3,629 (86%) had test results for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), with 43 (1.2%) being HBsAg positive.

“Our results identified a gap in care as a minority of HBsAg-positive patients with HCV coinfection received HBV DNA and/or e-antigen [HBeAg] testing,” the researchers stated.

Overall, only 2,342 (55.4%) patients had test results for all three HBV serologic markers. Among these, 789 (33.7%) were anti-HBc positive only, 678 (28.9%) were anti-HBc/anti-HBs positive, 190 (8.1%) were anti-HBs positive only, and 642 (27.4%) were HBV susceptible. In addition, only 50% of the HBV-susceptible patients received at least one dose of hepatitis B vaccine, according to the report published in Vaccine.

“Strategies are needed to increase hepatitis B testing, linkage to hepatitis B–directed care of HBV/HCV-coinfected patients, and to increase uptake in hepatitis B vaccination for HCV-infected patients within the Grady Health System,” the researchers concluded.

The study was funded by the CDC and the authors reported that they had no conflicts.

SOURCE: Harris AM et al. Vaccine. 2019;37:2188-93.