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Serological and virological profile of patients with chronic hepatitis B infection in Eritrea

Published on: 24th July, 2020

OCLC Number/Unique Identifier: 8639906724

Background: Hepatitis B virus infection is a major cause of liver associated morbidity and mortality with diverse spectrum of disease. It is estimated about 15% to 40% of patients with hepatitis B virus infection progress to chronic hepatitis and about 15% to 25% die from disease complications. The main aim of this study was to evaluate the serological and virological markers of patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection to determine the natural history of chronic hepatitis B infection in the Eritrean setting. Methods: A laboratory-based cross-sectional study was conducted on 305 patients with HBsAg positive who presented to Orotta National Referral Hospital, Halibet Hospital, Sembel Hospital and National Health Laboratory in Asmara, Eritrea from January 2017 to February 2019. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed to detect hepatitis B serological markers (anti-HBc, HBsAg, anti-HBsAb, HBeAg and anti-HBeAg). Hepatitis B DNA viral loads and liver transaminase levels were determined. Data analysis was conducted using SPSS version 25.0. Results: A total of 305 patients presented with HBsAg positive serology with a mean age of 41.3 (± 13.7) years ranging from 16 to 78 years. Males were 218 (71.5%) and females 87 (28. 5%).Anti-HBc was positive in 300 (98.4%), of which 293 (97.5%) were positive for HBsAg and 7 (2.3%) positive for anti-HBs. Among these 293 patients, 20 (6.8%) were HBeAg positive/anti-HBe positive, 242 (82.6%) HBeAg-negative/anti-HBe-positive and 31 (10.6%) were HBeAg negative/anti-HBe-positive. Detectable HBV DNA was found in 122(41.6%) of the 293 cases. Alanine transaminase was normal in 90% of HBeAg-positive and in 91.2% of HBeAg-negative patients. Hepatitis B DNA viral load was >2,000 IU/mL in 67 (22.86%) and >200,000 IU/mL level was more frequently detected in HBeAg positive (20.0%) compared to HBeAg negative (1.8%) subjects (p < 0.001). Conclusion: This study shows predominance of HBeAg-negative and low replication phase of HBV infection among patients in Eritrea. It also documented that most patients had chronic infection with normal liver transaminase levels in the absence of biochemical signs of hepatitis. This study will provide a basis for therapeutic evaluation of patients and planning national treatment guidelines in the Eritrean setting.
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