Seroepidemiological Survey of Hepatitis B and C Virus Infections in Ghanaian Children

Seroepidemiological Survey of Hepatitis B and C Virus Infections in Ghanaian Children

Seroepidemiological Survey of Hepatitis B and C Virus Infections in Ghanaian Children

Abstract

The seroprevalences of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) markers were evaluated in a random sample of 803 children attending school in Ashanti-Akim North district in Ghana in order to gain a better understanding of transmission patterns of these viruses, particularly horizontal transmission of HBV. This rural district is typical of 70% of the Ghanaian population. The overall seroprevalence of at least one marker of HBV infection was 61.2%, with rates increasing from 48% to 80% between the ages of 6-18 years (P < 0.001). The overall HBsAg seroprevalence was 15.8%, with the proportion of HBsAg positives amongst those with anti-HBc increasing from 39.3% in 6-7-year-olds to 51.8% in 12-13-year-olds. It appears that horizontal transmission during this age period was accompanied by a high rate of HBsAg carriage. Among those infected but not carriers, i.e., those HBsAg negative and anti-HBc positive, > 50% lacked detectable levels of anti-HBs, an unusual pattern of convalescent immune response to HBV. The overall seroprevalence of anti-HCV was 5.4% and did not differ significantly by age or gender. Anti-HCV seroprevalence was not associated with the presence of any HBV marker. A better understanding of the unusually high prevalences of HBV and HCV infections demonstrated in this population is likely to influence vaccination and blood transfusion policies and to stimulate further evaluations of these infections and their vehicles of spread in highly endemic regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.

read online

 

Post Comment