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Keywords

American Indian/Alaska Native; Chemical dependency treatment programs; Drug abuse—Treatment; Hepatitis C; Hepatitis C infections; Hepatitis; Viral; Indians of North America; Injection drug use; Vaccinations; Viral vaccines

Abstract

American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/AN) patients at an urban residential chemical dependency treatment center participated in a viral hepatitis prevention project. Project activities integrated into patients’ treatment programs included viral hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk factor screening, education and counseling, laboratory testing, and hepatitis A and B vaccination. Of 928 AI/AN admissions, 585 (63%) completed risk factor screening assessment. Of these, 436 (75%) received at least one vaccination, viral hepatitis testing, or both. Of 322 patients tested, 91 (28%) were hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibody positive. Lack of pre-existing immunity to vaccine-preventable viral hepatitis infection was common: 132 (45%) were susceptible to hepatitis A and 224 (70%) were susceptible to hepatitis B infection. Chemical dependency treatment centers serving urban AI/AN provide important opportunities for implementing viral hepatitis prevention programs for high-risk populations and for improving ongoing efforts to reduce the disparate impact of chronic liver disease in AI/ AN people.