Prevalence, correlates and pattern of hepatitis B surface antigen in a low resource setting.

Dr Ahizechukwu C Eke, MD, MPH, FWACS
Dr Ahizechukwu C Eke, MD, MPH, FWACS
Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine & Clinical Pharmacology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 600 N Wolfe Street
Maternal Fetal Medicine
Baltimore, Maryland | United States

Virol J 2011 Jan 12;8:12. Epub 2011 Jan 12.

Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in Nigeria has remained a Public Health issue. It is a major cause of mortality, especially in developing countries. Vertical transmission of hepatitis B virus infection is thought to be a major route of transmission in low resource areas. In spite of this, routine antenatal screening for hepatitis B infection is not yet practiced in many Nigerian hospitals. This paper present the findings of a study conducted among antenatal women in Nnewi, Nigeria.

Methods: It was a cross-sectional study carried out over a 3-month period (August-October, 2009). Recruitment of 480 women attending antenatal clinics in Nnewi, Nigeria was done by simple random sampling using computer generated random numbers. HBsAg screening was done using rapid ELISA Kits. Statistical analysis was computed using STATA 11 package. The results were subjected to analysis using cross tabulations to explore statistical relationships between variables. Chi square test was used to explore proportional relationship between groups. The level of statistical significance was set at p < 0.05 (providing 95% confidence interval).

Results: Four hundred and eighty pregnant women were recruited into the study. Of these, 40 tested positive to HBsAg, accounting for 8.3% of the sample population. The age of the subjects studied varied from 14 to 45 years (mean age--24.3 years) while the mean parity was 2.18. The HIV/HBV co-infection rate was 4.2%. The vertical transmission rate was 51.6%. There were statistically significant relationships between HBV infection and previous history of tribal marks/tattoos (χ2 = 27.39, P = 0.001, df = 1), history of contact with previously infected HBV patients (χ2 = 23.11, P = 0.001, df = 1) and occupation of the women (χ2 = 51.22, P = 0.001, df = 1). Multiple sexual partners, blood transfusion, dental manipulations, sharing of sharps/needles, and circumcision were not significant modes of transmission. There was no statistically significant relationship between maternal age, educational level and HBV infection.

Conclusion: The authors argued that hepatitis B screening in pregnancy should be made routine practice in Nigeria because of the low pick up rate of the infection based only on risk factors for the disease.

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