Refugee Health Technical Assistance Center
World Immunization Week is
April 24 to 30!


Prevention of Hepatitis B among Refugees

world immunization week WHO

 Hepatitis is a general term referring to inflammation of the liver.  This term also refers to a group of viral infections including hepatitis B and hepatitis C that affect the liver.  It is estimated that approximately 3% of all refugees arriving in the U.S. are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV).  Refugees originating from countries considered  highly endemic for HBV frequently have prevalence rates exceeding 10%.  Chronic infection is associated with the development of liver cirrhosis, failure and cancer.


Morbidity and mortality from HBV can be prevented through vaccination and early treatment.  During the domestic health assessment, HBV screening should be routinely performed on all refugees who are from or have resided in countries with intermediate (> 2%-7%) or high (≥ 8%) prevalence of chronic HBV infection.  Refugees who are not immune to HBV should be immunized.  Those who have initiated a vaccine series prior to arrival in the U.S. should complete the series according to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidelines.  Identifying HBV-infected pregnant women during pregnancy is important for preventing mother-to-child transmission of the virus.  Refugees with chronic HBV infection need to be assessed for treatment and receive liver cancer screenings. 


Read more about hepatitis and refugee health > 



  • Hepatitis B Information for Health Professionals
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

    Contains hepatitis B surveillance data, vaccination, and prevention information. 
    There are also perinatal hepatitis B prevention patient education materials in several languages, including Burmese.  
Updated Immunization Schedules from ACIP

Each year, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) publishes immunization schedules for children (birth to 18 years old) and reviews the recommended immunization schedule for adults (anyone over 18 years old).  Please click here for the 2013 child, adolescent, and adult immunization schedules.

New in the Literature


The Prevalence of Torture and Associated Symptoms in United States Iraqi Refugees. 2013. Willard CL, Rabin M, Lawless M. J Immigr Minor Health.  [Epub ahead of print]


The Impact of Functional Health Literacy and Acculturation on the Oral Health Status of Somali Refugees Living in Massachusetts. 2013.

Geltman PL, Adams JH, Cochran J, Doros G, Rybin D, Henshaw M, Barnes LL, Paasche-Orlow M. Am J Public Health.  [Epub ahead of print]


The Refugee Health Screener-15 (RHS-15): Development and Validation of an Instrument for Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD in Refugees. 2013. Hollifield M, Verbillis-Kolp S, Farmer B, Toolson EC, Woldehaimanot T, Yamazaki J, Holland A, St Clair J, Soohoo J. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 35(2): 202-9.


HIV/AIDS and Associated Conditions among HIV-Infected Refugees in Minnesota, 2000-2007. 2012. Lowther SA, Johnson G, Hendel-Paterson B, Nelson K, Mamo B, Krohn K, Pessoa-Brand´┐Żo L, O'Fallon A, Stauffer W. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 9(11):4197-209.


More refugee health in the literature >

Overseas Pilot Vaccination Program for U.S.-bound Refugees


The Division of Global Migration and Quarantine of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the U.S. Department of State are co-funding a pilot vaccination program for refugees who will be resettled in the U.S.  The goal of the program is to provide cost-effective public health interventions, improve refugee health, and limit the number of vaccinations refugees require after their arrival in the U.S.  The program will include refugees primarily from Bhutan, Burma, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan.


In the pilot program, International Organization for Migration will administer the first dose of vaccines at the initial migration health assessment. The second dose will be administered eight weeks after and at least one month before departure to the U.S.  For more information, please view the current immunization schedule for U.S.-bound refugees. 

ACA Resources in Refugee Languages

Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation is in full swing in anticipation for the opening of Health Insurance Marketplaces this fall.  Inform refugees about Health Insurance Marketplaces and the benefits from ACA with RHTAC's ACA two-page briefs.  These briefs are available in English, Arabic, Burmese, and Nepali.  Download briefs > 


Learn more about ACA > 

Upcoming Events & Trainings 


Strengthening Services for LGBT Refugees & Asylees (PART III): Ensuring Mental Health and Wellness Webinar

April 29, 2013, 2:00-3:30 PM EST

Presented by: Heartland Alliance


Protection, Resettlement, and Integration: Trends and Challenges in Serving African Refugees and Immigrants Conference

May 16-17, 2013, Arlington, VA

Presented by: Ethiopian Community Development Council  


2013 North American Refugee Health Conference 

June 6-8, 2013, Toronto, Canada

Presented by:  University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine

View more events and trainings > 

Funding Opportunities  


Navigators in Federally Facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces
U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Due June 7, 2013. Grants to eligible self-employed individuals and private and public entities applying to serve as Navigators in states with a Federally Facilitated or State Partnership Marketplace.


Refugee Microenterprise Development  

U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement

Due June 10, 2013.  Grants to public agencies, community economic development agencies, local mutual assistance associations, and voluntary agencies to assist refugees in becoming economically self-sufficient by owning and managing a small business. 

Individual Development Accounts (IDA) for Low-Income Refugees
U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement
Due June 17, 2013.  Grants fund the development and administration of IDAs for eligible refugees.  IDAs will support goals including home ownership, business capitalization, vehicles for educational or work purposes, professional certification, and education.    

  U.S. National Institutes of Health
Due January 7, 2014. Suggested research areas include: biobehavioral studies of multiple factors that influence child health disparities, studies that target specific health promotion needs of children with known illness and/or disability, and/or studies that test and evaluate comparative effectiveness of health promotion interventions.


RHTAC is a project of the Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the Center for Refugee Trauma and Resilience at Children's Hospital Boston, the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the Cultural Orientation Resource Center at Center for Applied Linguistics, and JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc. The information contained in RHTAC newsletters do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of RHTAC's partner agencies or its funders.  RHTAC is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Grant #90RB0042.    


For more information, please email [email protected].

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Refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Refugee Backgrounder
Cultural Orientation Resource Center at the Center for Applied Linguistics  
Addresses the causes of the refugee crisis, life in the DRC and countries of asylum, and Congolese resettlement experiences.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Country Condition Report
Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services 
Provides a historical timeline, information about torture, and current conditions in the DRC.

Video: A Religious Call to Action for Supporting LGBT Refugees within Communities of Faith
Heartland Alliance International's Rainbow Welcome Initiative
Shows inspiring clergy and resettlement workers in their ongoing efforts to ensure LGBT refugees are welcomed by their religious communities.


View more resources > 



Webinar Archive   


Free CME/CEC available!    

Tools and Strategies for Refugee Mental Health Screening: Introducing the RHS-15 

Presenter:   Michael Hollifield, M.D.


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