Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Prevalence of Hepatitis B, C, HIV and syphilis markers among refugees in Bari, Italy

Silvio Tafuri1, Rosa Prato2*, Domenico Martinelli2, Livio Melpignano1, Maria De Palma1, Michele Quarto1 and Cinzia Germinario1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Hygiene Section, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Puglia Regional Observatory for Epidemiology, Bari, Italy. Piazza Giulio Cesare 13-15, 70124 Bari, Italy

2 Department of Medical Sciences, Hygiene Section, University of Foggia, Puglia Regional Observatory for Epidemiology, Foggia, Italy. Viale L. Pinto Ospedali Riuniti di Foggia, 71100 Foggia, Italy

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:213  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-213

Published: 20 July 2010



The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) serological markers and the prevalence of VDRL positive subjects in a population of refugees of various nationalities, living in the Asylum Seeker Centre in Bari Palese, Southern Italy.


The study was carried out in the period May-July 2008 and recruited only voluntarily enrolled healthy refugees. HBsAg, anti-HBc, anti-HCV and anti-HIV virus antibodies were detected. VDRL syphilis screening was also carried out on the serum samples.


A total of 529 refugees, 442 males and 87 females, aged between 7 and 52 years, were studied. Of these, 510 were from Africa and 19 from Asia.

Forty-four individuals (8.3%) were HBsAg positive and 241 (45.6%) were anti-HBc positive. A total of 24 (4.5%) individuals were anti-HCV positive. Eight asylum seekers (1.5%) were HIV positive. VDRL tests were performed on 269 subjects and 4 (1.5%) were positive. 12.3% of the study population had serological markers of chronic and transmissible infections with potential blood-borne or sexual transmission.


In Italy, a suitable protocol is necessary for the early diagnosis of infectious diseases on entering Asylum Centres, so allowing the adoption of prevention measures to safeguard the health of the individuals, the residents and workers in the Centres and the general population.