Background: We investigated the association between municipal socioeconomic deprivation levels and the positivity of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) among individuals who have never participated in hepatitis screening using Japanese national screening data. Methods: The hepatitis virus screening data analyzed included the 5-year age group-specific number of participants aged 40 years or older, number of HBsAg-positive persons, and number of HCV carriers for each municipality from 2013 to 2017. Principal component analysis was used to derive a socioeconomic deprivation level using the socioeconomic characteristics of municipalities. Bayesian spatial Poisson regression analysis was conducted to investigate the association between the socioeconomic deprivation level and the results of screening. Data on 1,660 municipalities were used in the analysis. Results: The data of 4,233,819 participants in the HBV screening and 4,216,720 in the HCV screening were used in the analysis. A principal component interpreted as level of rurality (principal component 1) and another principal component interpreted as level of low socioeconomic status among individuals (principal component 2) were extracted as the major principal components. Their principal component scores were used as the deprivation levels of municipalities. Spatial regression analysis showed that the deprivation level derived from the sum of the scores of principal components 1 and 2 was significantly and positively associated with HBsAg positivity and HCV prevalence. In addition, the deprivation level derived only from the score of principal component 2 was also significantly and positively associated with the outcomes. Conversely, the deprivation level derived only from the score of principal component 1 was not associated with the outcomes. Moreover, population density was significantly and positively associated with HBsAg positivity and HCV prevalence. Conclusions: This study suggested that participation in hepatitis virus screening is important and meaningful, particularly for areas with a higher lower socioeconomic level in Japan.
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