In an epidemiological study of patients diagnosed as having hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection during a 12 month period in a London health district, 98 (67%) of 144 index cases and 146 (67%) of 218 of their named contacts were interviewed. The problems and benefits of using conventional contact tracing techniques in the management of this infection are discussed. Named contacts in stable relationships were more easily traced than young homosexuals with frequent anonymous contacts, and drug addicts. Information on the disease and the risk of its transmission to others was, however, welcomed by some homosexuals who were concerned to establish ways of identifying chronic carriers, immune men, and those at risk. A self help group was started as a result of this study.
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