Hepatitis B and C, HIV and syphilis among migrants in Finland : opportunities for public health response

Paula Tiittala

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirja


Migrants are over-represented among the incident cases of hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis in many low-prevalence countries including Finland. Current knowledge of the epidemiology of these infections among migrants is limited to guide the public health response. This thesis aims to describe the feasibility of screening in a population-based survey, to estimate the burden of infections, to evaluate the implementation of screening, and to assess HIV-related health literacy among specific migrant populations. Seroprevalence rates of HBV, HCV, HIV and syphilis were assessed in a population-based survey among adult Kurdish, Russian and Somali-origin migrants. Survey non-participation and previous notifications were evaluated through register-linkage. HBV, HIV and syphilis seroprevalence and implementation of screening among all asylum seekers in Finland in 2015–2016 were examined based on register information of healthcare procurements. HIV-related knowledge, attitudes and practices of young adult asylum seekers were compared to those of age-matched general population in two separate surveys. Non-participation analysis observed no differences in the notification prevalence of HBV, HCV, HIV or syphilis between participants and non-participants of the survey. The majority of survey participants accepted the multiphasic opt-in provider-initiated screening. Acceptability of HIV testing was increased by enhanced pre-test counselling. Seroprevalence of HBV, HCV, HIV and syphilis among Kurdish, Russian and Somali-origin migrants and among asylum seekers were comparable or lower than in countries of origin. Prevalence of HCV and syphilis was higher in older age-groups. The burden of HBV was highest among Somali-origin migrants and that of HCV and syphilis among Russian migrants. Of all test-positive cases among Kurdish, Russian and Somali-migrants, 61% had not been previously notified and were considered missed diagnoses. Coverage of after arrival screening of HBV, HIV and syphilis was 88% among eligible Kurdish, Russian and Somali migrants, and 61% among asylum seekers. Previous HIV testing was reported by 31% of the Kurdish, Russian and Somali-origin migrants and 23% of the young adult asylum seekers. HIV-related knowledge among asylum seekers was below the international target level. Asylum seekers preferred passive sources of HIV information to interpersonal strategies of health education. In conclusion, although asylum and integration processes are windows of opportunity for health education, prevention and screening, barriers hindering their implementation exist. Missed HBV diagnoses among Somali-origin migrants suggest missed opportunities for vaccinations. Limitations of the current screening programme explain missed hepatitis C and syphilis diagnoses among Russian migrants. Findings from this study suggest opportunities for public health response: extending after-arrival screening of HBV, HIV and syphilis to all at-risk migrants, inclusion of HCV screening, describing and addressing barriers that hinder implementation of screening, enhancing provider-initiated screening and investing in health literacy.
  • Kivelä, Pia, Valvoja
  • Liitsola, Kirsi, Valvoja, Ulkoinen henkilö
  • Ristola, Matti A, Valvoja
Painoksen ISBN978-951-51-5254-1
Sähköinen ISBN978-951-51-5255-8
TilaJulkaistu - 2019
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Tohtorinväitöskirja (artikkeli)


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