High prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis B and C in Minnesota Somalis contributes to rising hepatocellular carcinoma incidence

Essa A. Mohamed, Nasra H. Giama, Abubaker O. Abdalla, Hassan M. Shaleh, Abdul M. Oseini, Hamdi A. Ali, Fowsiyo Ahmed, Wesam Taha, Hager Ahmed Mohammed, Jessica Cvinar, Ibrahim A. Waaeys, Hawa Ali, Loretta K. Allotey, Abdiwahab O. Ali, Safra A. Mohamed, William S. Harmsen, Eimad M. Ahmmad, Numra A. Bajwa, Mohamud D. Afgarshe, Abdirashid M. ShireJoyce E. Balls-Berry, Lewis R. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are known risk factors for liver disease, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). There is substantial global variation in HBV and HCV prevalence resulting in variations in cirrhosis and HCC. We previously reported high prevalence of HBV and HCV infections in Somali immigrants seen at an academic medical center in Minnesota. AIM To determine the prevalence of chronic viral hepatitis in Somali immigrants in Minnesota through a community-based screening program. METHODS We conducted a prospective community-based participatory research study in the Somali community in Minnesota in partnership with community advisory boards, community clinics and local mosques between November 2010 and December 2015 (data was analyzed in 2020). Serum was tested for hepatitis B surface antigen, hepatitis B core antibody, hepatitis B surface antibody and anti-HCV antibody. RESULTS Of 779 participants, 15.4% tested positive for chronic HBV infection, 50.2% for prior exposure to HBV and 7.6% for chronic HCV infection. Calculated age-adjusted frequencies in males and females for chronic HBV were 12.5% and 11.6%; for prior exposure to HBV were 44.8% and 41.3%; and for chronic HCV were 6.7% and 5.7%, respectively. Seven participants developed incident HCC during follow up. CONCLUSION Chronic HBV and HCV are major risk factors for liver disease and HCC among Somali immigrants, with prevalence of both infections substantially higher than in the general United States population. Community-based screening is essential for identifying and providing health education and linkage to care for diagnosed patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5127-5229
Number of pages103
JournalWorld journal of gastroenterology
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 21 2022


  • African
  • Community engagement
  • Immigrant health
  • Liver disease
  • Viral hepatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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