Background: The demographic of Northern Territory prison population differs than elsewhere in Australia and the prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C may therefore be somewhat different from other jurisdictions. There has been no study which has specifically described the serological results of a large proportion of prisoners in Northern Territory correctional facilities over an extended period of time.
Methods: This retrospective longitudinal study reviewed serological results and testing rates for hepatitis B, and hepatitis C performed in correctional facilities in the Northern Territory of Australia between July 1st, 2003 and June 30th, 2017. Results: The proportion of positive records over 14 years for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was 641/12,066 (5.3, 95% CI 4.9–5.7), for hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc) 4937/12,138 (40.1, 95%CI 39.8–41.6), for hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs) 6966/13,303 (52.4, 95% CI 51.5–53.2), and for hepatitis C antibody 569/12,153 (4.7, 95% CI 4.3–5.1). The proportion of prisoners tested for hepatitis B and hepatitis C has decreased since 2015, while a high proportion of prisoners remain non-immune to hepatitis B.
Conclusion: There is a relatively high proportion of positive serological markers of hepatitis B, and a lower proportion of positive hepatitis C serology in the Northern Territory’s correctional facilities compared to overall Australian rates. As the proportion of prisoners tested for hepatitis B and C has decreased recently, and a high proportion of prisoners remain non-immune to hepatitis B, there are opportunities to increase testing and vaccination rates in this population.