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An outbreak of hepatitis A among homosexual men in Melbourne.

Stewart T, Crofts N

  • Journal The Medical journal of Australia

  • Published 07 Jun 1993

  • Volume 158

  • ISSUE 8

  • Pagination 519-21

  • DOI 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1993.tb121865.x


To describe an outbreak of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection that occurred in Melbourne in 1991.

(i) We reviewed Health Department Victoria surveillance data from 1989 to 1991 (primary surveillance) and identified all notified cases of HAV infection with an onset of illness between 1 January and 31 December 1991 (secondary surveillance data). (ii) We studied HAV seroprevalence in Melbourne among homosexual men attending gay venues.

(i) In the two years 1989-1990 there were only 55 notifications of HAV infection to Health Department Victoria, with a male:female ratio of 1.2:1. Of the 495 notifications for 1991, 407 (82%) were male, of whom 210 (52%) were known to be homosexual. Many reported sexual and social contact at Melbourne's gay venues and with the Sydney gay community. (ii) Of men attending gay venues, 27% had serological evidence of past infection with HAV, compared with 45.8% in a 1981 Melbourne study.

The outbreak of HAV infection in Victoria largely affected homosexual males in their sexually active years. Contact with the Sydney gay community was commonly reported.