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.
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