Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 34160616
Link to DOI – 10.1093/infdis/jiab327
J Infect Dis 2022 Sep; 226(5): 862-870
Prevalence and clinical outcomes of occult hepatitis B infection (OBI) have been poorly studied in Africa.Using the PROLIFICA cohort, we compared the prevalence of OBI between hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-negative healthy adults screened from the general population (controls) and HBsAg-negative patients with advanced liver disease (cases), and estimated the population attributable fraction for the effect of OBI on advanced liver disease.OBI prevalence was significantly higher among cases (15/82, 18.3%) than controls (31/330, 9.4%, P = .03). After adjusting for age, sex, and anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) serology, OBI was significantly associated with advanced liver disease (odds ratio, 2.8; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3-6.0; P = .006). In HBsAg-negative people, the proportions of advanced liver disease cases attributable to OBI and HCV were estimated at 12.9% (95% CI, 7.5%-18.1%) and 16.9% (95% CI, 15.2%-18.6%), respectively.OBI is endemic and an independent risk factor for advanced liver disease in The Gambia, West Africa. This implies that HBsAg-negative people with liver disease should be systematically screened for OBI. Moreover, the impact of infant hepatitis B immunization to prevent end-stage liver disease might be higher than previous estimates based solely on HBsAg positivity.