• To document the circulating HBV genotypes in Indigenous patients from across Australia.

  • To describe the management and natural history of HBV in Australian Indigenous people.

  • Prospectively recruit patients with HBV infections and correlate the clinical disease picture with infecting HBV genotype.  Also to determine if vaccine failures are occurring.

To date we have recruited over 200 participants with HBV and found all to be infected with a novel HBV genotype.  We continue to follow these participants.  The study has expanded to include Central Australia and communities from remote South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland.

Implications for policy and practice:

If vaccine failures are confirmed to have occurred and to be associated with the novel HBV genotype then the vaccine strain used or the vaccine schedule may need to be changed.  If the disease due to this virus is more aggressive than other HBV genotypes, then earlier screening of patients for liver cancer may be required.

Our research has found: 

We have discovered that all patients recruited are infected with a novel HBV genotype. We are now seeking funding to better understand the impact of this novel virus.

Chief Investigators:
Project manager:
Contact information:
Project dates:

The project commenced in 2010 and is continuing to recruit participants.

  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory.
  1. Davies J, Boutlis CS, Marshall CS, Tong SYC, Davis JS. The unique aspects of chronic hepatitis B infection in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Internal Medicine Journal 48 (2018) 484-485

  2. Cheah BC, Davies J, Singh GR, Wood N, Jackson K, Littlejohn M, Davison B, McIntyre P, Locarnini S, Davis JS, Tong SYC. Sub-optimal protection against past hepatitis B virus infection where subtype mismatch exists between vaccine and circulating viral genotype in northern Australia. Vaccine 36 (2018) 3533-3540

  3. Davies J, Qin Li S, Tong SYC, Baird RW, Beaman M, Higgins G, Cowie BC, Condon JR, Davis JS. Establishing contemporary trends in hepatitis B sero-epidemiology in an Indigenous population. PLoS ONE 12(9) 2017.

  4. Davies J, Bukulatjpi S, Sharma S, Caldwell L, Johnston V, Davis J. Development of a Culturally Appropriate Bilingual Electronic App About Hepatitis B for Indigenous Australians: Towards Shared Understandings. 2015;4:e70.

  5. Littlejohn M, Davies J, Yuen L, Tong S, Davis JS, Locarnini S. Molecular virology of Hepatitis B virus, subgenotype C4 in Northern Australian Indigenous populations. Journal of Medical Virology 2014; 86: 695-706

  6. Davies J, Bukulatjpi S, Sharma S, Davis J, Johnston V. “Only your blood can tell the story” – a qualitative research study using semi-structured interviews to explore the hepatitis B related knowledge, perceptions and experiences of remote dwelling Indigenous Australians and their health care providers in northern Australia. BMC Public Health 2014, 14:1233

  7. Parker C, Tong SYC, Dempsey K, Condon J, Sharma S, Chen JWC, Sievert W, Davis JS. Hepatocellular carcinoma in Australia’s Northern Territory – high incidence and poor outcomes. Medical Journal of Australia 2014; 201(8): 470-47.

  8. Davies J, Littlejohn M, Locarnini SA, Whiting S, Hajkowicz K, Cowie BC, Bowden DS, Tong SYC, Davis JS.  The molecular epidemiology of hepatitis B in the Indigenous people of northern Australia. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2013; 28(7): 1234-1241.