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World J Gastroenterol. Jan 14, 2021; 27(2): 143-151
Published online Jan 14, 2021. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v27.i2.143
Hepatotropic viruses: Is Roma population at risk?
Anna Mrzljak, Lucija Bajkovec, Tatjana Vilibic-Cavlek
Anna Mrzljak, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Merkur, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
Anna Mrzljak, Tatjana Vilibic-Cavlek, School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
Lucija Bajkovec, Department of Medicine, County Hospital Cakovec, Cakovec 40000, Croatia
Tatjana Vilibic-Cavlek, Department of Virology, Croatian Institute of Public Health, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
Author contributions: Mrzljak A and Vilibic-Cavlek T made contributions to the concept, design and writing of the manuscript; Bajkovec L was involved in writing the manuscript and creating the image; all authors approved the final manuscript.
Conflict-of-interest statement: No potential conflicts of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Anna Mrzljak, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Merkur, Zajčeva 19, Zagreb 10000, Grad Zagreb, Croatia.
Received: October 25, 2020
Peer-review started: October 25, 2020
First decision: November 13, 2020
Revised: November 13, 2020
Accepted: November 29, 2020
Article in press: November 29, 2020
Published online: January 14, 2021

Roma people make up a significant ethnic minority in many European countries, with the vast majority living in Central and Eastern Europe. Roma are a vulnerable population group in social, economic, and political terms. Frequent migrations, life in segregated communities, substandard housing, poverty, and limited access to quality health care, including low immunization coverage, affect their health status and predispose them to various diseases, including viral hepatitis. Hepatitis A, B, and E are highly prevalent among Roma and mainly associated with low socioeconomic status. In contrast, hepatitis C does not seem to be more frequent in the Roma population. Enhanced efforts should be directed towards the implementation of screening programs, preventive measures, and treatment of viral hepatitis in Roma communities throughout Europe.

Keywords: Roma population, Hepatitis A virus, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, Hepatitis E virus, Europe

Core Tip: Roma people constitute the most important transnational minority in Europe. They are a vulnerable population group in social, economic, and political terms. Low socioeconomic conditions and lack of quality health care predispose them to viral hepatitis, especially hepatitis A, B, and E. In the global attempt to eliminate viral hepatitis, Roma should be considered a high priority group for screening and treatment based on the epidemiological and social context.