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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The prevalence of hepatitis B virus markers in a cohort of students in Bangui, Central African Republic

Narcisse P Komas1*, Souleyman Baï-Sepou1, Alexandre Manirakiza1, Josiane Léal1, Aubin Béré1 and Alain Le Faou12

Author Affiliations

1 Viral Hepatitis Laboratory, Institut Pasteur de Bangui, PO Box 923 Bangui, Central African Republic

2 New Affiliation address: Laboratoire de Virologie, CHU de Nancy, Hôpital de Brabois-adultes, 54511 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy, France

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:226  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-226

Published: 29 July 2010

Abstract

Background

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the major cause of chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The global epidemiological scenario of HBV infection has been changing rapidly over the last two decades due to an effective immunization programme initiated by the World Health Organization. The objective of this study is to estimate the prevalence of HBV in apparently healthy young people and to identify the risk factors of transmission of the HBV among this population in Bangui.

Methods

Dried blood Spots from 801 adolescent high school and young adult university students were prepared by spotting a drop of whole blood (4 spots) from the same fingerprick onto Whatman filter paper. A blood sample aliquot eluted from DBS was then processed with commercial ELISA tests (Abbott Murex, Dartfort, UK) to detect HBsAg antigen, Anti-HBc and Anti-HBs antibodies).

Results

The overall prevalence was 42.3% for antibody to hepatitis B core antigen, 15.5% for HBsAg of which 1.3% of HBsAg alone. HBV familial antecedents, sexual activity and socioeconomic conditions were the main risk factors of HBV infection encountered in the adolescents and young adults.

Conclusion

These results show for the first time the high prevalence of HBV in apparently healthy young people in Bangui. This high prevalence is age- and sex-independent. Transmission risk factors were a familial antecedent of HBV, no utilisation of condoms and public scholarship. To lower HBV prevalence, an adequate program of active screening and vaccination for adolescents and young adults should be implemented, along with a universal immunization program.