SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
FIRNHABER, Cynthia et al. The prevalence of hepatitis B co-infection in a South African urban government HIV clinic. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2008, vol.98, n.7, pp. 541-544. ISSN 2078-5135.
OBJECTIVE: There are an estimated 350 million hepatitis B carriers worldwide. In South Africa the prevalence of monoinfection with hepatitis B has been estimated to range from 1% in urban areas to approximately 10% in rural areas. The exact prevalence of hepatitis B in the HIV-infected population has not been well established. Hepatitis B screening is not standard practice in government HIV clinics. Co-infection with hepatitis B and HIV can influence antiretroviral treatment and prognosis of both diseases. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of hepatitis B/HIV coinfection. DESIGN: This is believed to be the first prospective observational report on the prevalence of hepatitis B/HIV co-infection in South Africa. Patients on whom hepatitis B serological tests could not have been done previously were recruited from an HIV clinic in a regional hospital in Johannesburg. Standard hepatitis B serological tests were performed. RESULTS: Five hundred and two participants were screened. The cohort's average age was 37±9 years and the average CD4 count was 128 cells/µl. Twenty-four (4.8%) were hepatitis B surface antigen positive. Nearly half (47%) of the participants showed some evidence of hepatitis B exposure. The risk of hepatitis B co-infection was not significantly different when analysed in terms of sex, race, CD4 count or age. Liver function tests were not a good predictor of hepatitis B infection. CONCLUSION: The rate of hepatitis B infection, as defined by hepatitis B surface antigen positivity, in HIV-infected individuals in urban South Africa was 5 times the rate in people who were not HIV-infected. A 5% rate of hepatitis B/HIV co-infection is a reason to increase the accessibility of tenofovir/emtricitabine (Truvada) for first-line treatment for this population.