1 Liver Unit, Birmingham Women and Children's Hospital NHS Trust (BWCH), Birmingham, UK.
2 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Trust (BCH), Birmingham, UK.
Blood borne virus (BBV) infection in adults involved in high risk behaviour is well recognized. There are limited reported data on young people involved in high risk behaviour. A descriptive questionnaire was used to ascertain risk behaviour at the Young People's Substance Misuse Service (Birmingham). Data collection included risk behaviour and serological tests for hepatitis B, C and HIV. Sixty-five of one-hundred three (63%) young people participated; 37/65 male; age range 13.9-18.9 (median 17.4 years). Risk behaviour included 6 intravenous drug, 58 cannabis, and 61 had sexual partners, of whom 52 (85%) engaged in unprotected sex. Sixty-five participants were negative for BBV infection: 9 were HBV immune. HB vaccination was not available at the centre (for <18 year), and all refused referral to their general practitioner for vaccination due to fear of disclosure. The main risk for BBV acquisition was unprotected sex with multiple sexual partners and illicit drug use. Most were unaware of the risks related to high risk behaviour. Effective education programmes of relevant risk factors with HBV vaccination should be implemented during preadolescence. We recommend an integrated service via specialized centres, to work together to improve awareness and increase efforts to vaccinate adolescents at risk for HBV infection.