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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 17, Issue 10, Pages 593-596
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2003/978162
Original Article

Viral Hepatitis in a Canadian First Nations Community

GY Minuk,1 M Zhang,1 SGM Wong,1 J Uhanova,1 CN Bernstein,2 B Martin,3 MR Dawood,4 L Vardy,5 and A Giulvi5

1Section of Hepatology, Department of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
2Section of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
3Northern Medical Unit, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
4Cadham Provincial Laboratory, Blood Borne Pathogen Division, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
5Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Blood Borne Pathogen Division, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Received 24 April 2003; Revised 15 July 2003

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Serological markers for hepatitis A (HAV), B (HBV) and C (HCV) were documented in 315 inhabitants (27%) of a central Manitoba First Nations community. Serologic evidence of HAV infection (anti-HAV positive) was almost universal (92%) by the age of 20 years. HBV infection (antibody to hepatitis B core antigen positive) had occurred in only 2.3% of the study population and no chronic carriers were identified. Serological evidence of HCV infection (anti-HCV positive) was documented in 2.2% of the population but ongoing viremia (HCV-RNA positive by polymerase chain reaction) was absent. The results of this study highlight the importance of universal HAV vaccination; likely reflect the efficacy of existing prenatal screening and immunoprophylaxis programs for HBV; and raise the possibility that First Nations peoples have an enhanced ability to spontaneously clear HCV.