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Hepatitis infection among adolescents resident in Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre: risk factors and challenges.

Ogilvie EL, Veit F, Crofts N, Thompson SC

  • Journal The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine

  • Published 14 Sep 1999

  • Volume 25

  • ISSUE 1

  • Pagination 46-51

  • DOI 10.1016/s1054-139x(98)00086-x


To describe patterns of infection with, and risks for, hepatitis A, B and C viruses (HAV, HBV, and HCV) in male adolescents detained in the Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre (MJJC).

A cross-sectional serosurvey for HAV, HBV, and HCV among 90 male adolescents aged 15-18 years who were resident in MJJC for more than 1 week in 1996.

Nine percent had been exposed to HAV, 8% were positive or equivocal for exposure to HBV, and 21% were antibody positive for HCV. All those with hepatitis markers except one positive for HAV had been injection heroin users for more than 1 year. Of those who were not HBcAb positive, only 28% were immune to HBV. For most respondents, sexual and drug-using risks began in the early teens and were associated with leaving school prematurely.

Respondents were vulnerable to exposure to blood-borne viruses from an early age, posing a challenge for health education programs. An opportunity exists for harm minimization and prevention of spread of blood-borne viruses within the first year of injection drug use in this population.