A small proportion of non-UK born residents bear the greatest burden of infectious disease, a new report shows.
The Health Protection Agency's (HPA) second report on migrant health shows that almost three-quarters of reported cases of tuberculosis (TB) in 2010 occurred in non-UK born residents.
The report also shows that almost 60 per cent of newly diagnosed cases of HIV, and 80 per cent of hepatitis B infected UK blood donors were born abroad.
Health risks to non-UK born residents can continue for many years after arrival in the UK. For example, 77 per cent of non-UK born TB cases in 2010 were diagnosed two or more years after arrival in the UK, and half of non-UK born men who have sex with men with a newly diagnosed HIV infection between 2001 and 2010 had probably acquired their infection within the UK.
In addition, UK residents travelling to visit friends and relatives in their country of origin are the main risk group for some travel-associated infections diagnosed in the UK such as malaria and enteric fever.
Where information was available 61 per cent of malaria cases reported in the UK in 2010 and 87 per cent of enteric fever cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were in non-UK born residents who travelled abroad to visit friends and relatives. Both of these diseases are preventable through pre-travel advice and appropriate prophylactic measures.
Dr. Jane Jones, Consultant Epidemiologist and Head of the Travel and Migrant Health Section at the HPA said: “The majority of non-UK born residents do not have infectious diseases but some are at higher risk than UK born residents because of their exposures and their life experiences prior to, during and after migration.
“Timely identification of risk and diagnosis of infection can improve health outcomes. Primary care practitioners in particular play a vital role in identifying people at risk and ensuring appropriate management, and it is important to remember that risk to non-UK born residents does not end on arrival in the UK.”
HPA recommends that non-UK born communities should have access to culturally competent and language supported services.
It also recommends a co-ordinated approach to assessing a new migrant patient’s health needs, including improving the collection of country of birth information as this is an indicator of possible risk.
Dr. Jones added: “By supporting UK practitioners to recognise and appropriately manage the health needs of non-UK born people, the HPA aims to contribute to the reduction of the burden of infectious disease in the populations that are at highest risk.”