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.
METHODS: Based on data from a published systematic review on chronic HBV, we applied a linear model on the logit scale to assess time trends in country-specific prevalence. Estimated HBsAg prevalence in 2000 and relative changes in prevalence over time were evaluated by country and region.
RESULTS: Sufficient data were available for 50 countries, mostly showing reductions in prevalence over time. Various degrees of heterogeneity were observed within regions, with a relatively homogenous pattern in the Eastern Mediterranean region with strong decreases in HBsAg prevalence. Europe showed a mixed pattern: higher and stable chronic HBsAg prevalence in Eastern, and constantly low prevalence in Western Europe. In Africa, some countries demonstrated no change in prevalence; increases were seen in Uganda (odds ratio 1.05 per year; 95% confidence interval 1.04-1.06), Nigeria (1.02; 1.02-1.02), Senegal (1.01; 1.01-1.02), and South Africa (1.02; 1.01-1.02). With some exceptions, country-patterns overlapped among countries of South East Asian and Western Pacific regions, characterized by low-medium HBsAg decreases, most prominent in China and Malaysia.
CONCLUSIONS: Most countries experienced decreases in HBsAg prevalence. Dynamics varied, even within regions; decreases occurred mostly before the direct effects of childhood vaccination may have manifested. These findings together with stable and increasing HBsAg prevalence in some countries of Africa and Eastern Europe indicate the need for further tailored country-specific prevention.
LAY SUMMARY: This study investigated time trends in prevalence of chronic HBV infection in 50 countries worldwide over the last decade, by estimating relative changes in prevalence. Results show decreases in chronic HBV infection in most countries; no changes or increases in prevalence are noted in some African countries. Reasons for time changes need to be investigated further; based on the results, various prevention measures have contributed to reductions, and further tailored HBV prevention is required to combat the disease on a global level.