Open Access Research article

Seroepidemiology of viral hepatitis, HIV and herpes simplex type 2 in the household population aged 21-64 years in Puerto Rico

Cynthia M Pérez1*, Edmir Marrero1, Marytere Meléndez1, Sandra Adrovet1, Héctor Colón2, Ana P Ortiz13, Marievelisse Soto-Salgado14, Carmen Albizu2, Esther A Torres5 and Erick Suárez1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

2 Center for Sociomedical Research and Evaluation, Graduate School of Public Health, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

3 Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program, University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

4 Puerto Rico Cancer Center, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

5 Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Medical Sciences Campus, University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:76  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-76

Published: 23 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Viral hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are key public health problems that pose an enormous risk for disease transmission in the general population. This study estimated, for the first time, prevalence estimates of serologic markers of HCV, HBV, HAV, HIV and HSV-2 in the adult population of Puerto Rico and assessed variations across sociodemographic and behavioral characteristics.

Methods

A seroepidemiologic survey was employed using a stratified cluster probability sample of households in Puerto Rico. Participants completed a face-to-face interview, a self-administered questionnaire using an ACASI system, and provided blood specimens for antibody testing. Prevalence estimates of viral hepatitis, HIV and HSV-2 were estimated using a logistic regression model weighting for the probability of participation in each household block and the inverse of the probability of selection according to geographic strata, households' blocks, and sex distribution.

Results

A total of 1,654 adults participated in the study. Seroprevalence estimates for HCV (2.3%, 95% CI: 1.3%-4.2%), HBV (3.1%, 95% CI: 2.0%-4.7%), and HSV-2 (22.3%, 95% CI: 18.5%-26.7%) in Puerto Rico are roughly in agreement with estimates obtained in the US population; however, HAV (41.3%, 95% CI: 36.9%-45.8%) and HIV (1.1%, 95% CI: 0.5%-2.3%) seroprevalence estimates in Puerto Rico were higher. The proportion of individuals that were unaware of their serostatus was as follows: 80% for HCV, 98.3% for HBV, 96.4% for HAV, 36.4% for HIV, and 97.8% for HSV-2. Post-stratification estimates of seroprevalence varied significantly by demographic and risk related characteristics.

Conclusion

This data underscore the disproportionate impact of some viral infections across selected population subgroups in Puerto Rico. A concerted island-wide effort is needed to strengthen viral hepatitis and STIs prevention and control strategies, support surveillance to monitor chronic infections, and ensure appropriate counseling, testing, and medical management of infected persons. Integration of HCV, HBV, and HSV-2 counseling into HIV existing prevention services and outreach through social networks might represent a valuable approach to reach high-risk individuals.