Dr. Woo is a Fellow in the Division of Hepatology, Ms. Hill is the Manager and Ms. de Medina is the Director of the Research Laboratory in the Hepatology Diagnostic Laboratory, and Dr. Schiff is the Director of the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases, all at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Miami, Florida.
Despite recommendations for screening for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV), most individuals are still unaware of their infection status. The disparities in screening for HBV and HCV can be attributed to lack of awareness, language barriers, and difficulty in accessing healthcare. To address these issues, an exhibit booth was set up at an annual cultural festival to promote awareness about HBV and HCV and also provide free screening for a local Floridian community. Recruitment was conducted in various languages by physicians and nurses who specialize in hepatology. All materials associated with the screening process were sponsored by the Schiff Center for Liver Diseases, which is located at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida. In the first year of the screening initiative, 173 of 11,000 fair attendees were screened for HBV. Twenty-nine (17%) of those screened tested positive for antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc), and only 1 individual tested positive for chronic HBV, with positive hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Screening for HCV and an extended patient questionnaire were added to the screening program in the second year of the initiative. A total 231 of 9,000 fair attendees volunteered to be screened for both HBV and HCV. Twenty-nine (13%) of these people tested positive for anti-HBc, and 3 tested positive for HBsAg. Only 1 person tested positive for anti-HCV, but this individual had undetectable HCV RNA levels. Our single-center experience illustrates that, despite efforts to improve access to screening, only 2-3% of attendees at a cultural fair embraced the screening efforts. Other strategies will be required to enhance participation in screening programs for viral hepatitis.