A New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene survey indicates that residents being diagnosed with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the city are predominantly male and/or Asian, a finding consistent with national trends, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report.

Chronic HBV infection is a worldwide problem—and a major cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis. Its prevalence in the United States is estimated at 0.3 to 0.5 percent.

For the survey, every two months between September 2008 and January 2010, city health department investigators chose a random sample of 20 people from their database of those who had tested positive for HBV within the previous two to three months. Information on 156 of these people was successfully collected from the testing clinicians through questionnaires and telephone follow-ups. Topics covered in the survey included: reasons for HBV testing, related risk factors, hepatitis A vaccination status, demographic information, and patient care and counseling.

The survey revealed that the new HPV cases were predominantly male (61 percent) and Asian (67 percent), with 56 percent having been born in China.

Clinicians did not report any patient risk factors for 70 percent of the patients. Among HBV cases for which data were available, the most common risk factors were perinatal exposure and heterosexual contact. Sixty-two percent of clinicians didn’t know whether their patients were vaccinated for hepatitis A.

Seventy-five percent of clinicians said they provided counseling about how to avoid transmitting HBV to others. Sixty-nine percent reported counseling patients to inform close contacts of their status. Asian patients were significantly more likely to receive counseling than non-Asian patients.