Homelessness and Hepatitis A-San Diego County, 2016-2018.Clin Infect Dis. 2020 06 24; 71(1):14-21.CI
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable viral disease transmitted by the fecal-oral route. During 2016-2018, the County of San Diego investigated an outbreak of hepatitis A infections primarily among people experiencing homelessness (PEH) to identify risk factors and support control measures. At the time of the outbreak, homelessness was not recognized as an independent risk factor for the disease.
We tested the association between homelessness and infection with hepatitis A virus (HAV) using a test-negative study design comparing patients with laboratory-confirmed hepatitis A with control subjects who tested negative for HAV infection. We assessed risk factors for severe hepatitis A disease outcomes, including hospitalization and death, using multivariable logistic regression. We measured the frequency of indications for hepatitis A vaccination according to Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines.
Among 589 outbreak-associated cases reported, 291 (49%) occurred among PEH. Compared with those who were not homeless, PEH had 3.3 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5-7.9) times higher odds of HAV infection, 2.5 (95% CI, 1.7-3.9) times higher odds of hospitalization, and 3.9 (95% CI, 1.1-16.9) times higher odds of death associated with hepatitis A. Among PEH, 212 (73%) patients recorded other ACIP indications for hepatitis A vaccination.
PEH were at higher risk of infection with HAV and of severe hepatitis A disease outcomes compared with those not experiencing homelessness. Approximately one-fourth of PEH had no other ACIP indication for hepatitis A vaccination. These findings support the recent ACIP recommendation to add homelessness as an indication for hepatitis A vaccination.