MATERIALS AND METHODS: A prospective, cross-sectional study involving 352 students, comprising 109 (31.0%) males and 243 (69.0%) females. Blood specimens were tested for anti-HBs, where levels of ≥10 mIU/mL was considered reactive and protective. Students with non-reactive levels were given a 20 μg HBV vaccine booster. Anti-HBs levels were tested six weeks after the first booster dose. Those with anti-HBs <10 mIU/mL were then given another two booster doses, at least one month apart. Anti-HBs levels were tested six weeks after the third dose.
RESULTS: Ninety-seven students (27.6%) had anti-HBs ranging from 10 to >1000 mIU/mL while 255 (72.4%) had anti-HBs <10 mIU/mL. After one booster dose, 208 (59.1%) mounted anti-HBs ≥10 mIU/mL. Among the remaining 47 (13.3%), all except two students (0.6%) responded following completion of three vaccination doses. They were negative for HBsAg and anti-HBcore antibody, thus regarded as non-responders.
CONCLUSIONS: Anti-HBs levels waned after 20 years post-vaccination, where more than 70% were within non-reactive levels. For healthcare workers, a booster dose followed by documenting anti-HBs levels of ≥10 mIU/mL may be recommended, to guide the management of post-exposure prophylaxis. Pre-booster anti-HBs testing may not be indicated. Serological surveillance is important in long-term assessment of HBV vaccination programs. No HBV carrier was detected.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to detect occult hepatitis B virus in hepatitis B surface antigen-negative serum using anti-HBc as a marker of previous infection.
PATIENT AND METHODS: A total of 1000 randomly selected hepatitis B surface antigen-negative sera from blood donors were tested for hepatitis B core antibody and hepatitis B surface antibody using an ELISA and nested polymerase chain reaction was done using primers specific to the surface gene (S-gene).
RESULTS: Of the 1000 samples 55 (5.5%) were found to be reactive, of which 87.3% (48/55) were positive for hepatitis B surface antibody, indicating immunity as a result of previous infection however, that does not exclude active infection with escaped mutant HBV. Nested PCR results showed the presence of hepatitis B viral DNA in all the 55 samples that were positive for core protein, which is in agreement with the hepatitis B surface antibody result.
CONCLUSION: This study reveals the 5.5% prevalence of occult hepatitis B among Malaysian blood donors as well as the reliability of using hepatitis B core antibody in screening for occult hepatitis B infection in low endemic, low socioeconomic settings.