Hepatitis B Prevalence among Pregnant Women in Central and West Nile regions of Uganda: Is there a Need to prioritize Prevention of Mother to Child hepatitis B transmission?
Introduction Within sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the burden of chronic hepatitis B (HBV) is unacceptably high in several countries including Uganda. Elimination of HBV in the context of inadequate resources and several competing health issues, faces challenges including limited data on disease burden in important population sub-groups. In order to optimize available resources, reliable data on HBV among pregnant women is useful to guide policies on prevention. This study estimated HBV prevalence
... d related factors among pregnant women in Central and West Nile regions of Uganda Methods Using a two-stage sampling approach, we selected a random sample of 310 pregnant women, 18 years or older from public health facility antenatal clinics in central and west Nile, North-western Uganda. Consenting women were interviewed to obtain data on HBV vaccination status, HIV status, selected sexual and lifestyle factors and socio-demographic information. In addition, they underwent phlebotomy to obtain blood for testing for hepatitis B surface antigen, (HBsAg) antibodies to the surface antigen (anti-HBs), and antibodies to the core (anti-HBc), as indicators of chronic infection, prior exposure, and susceptibility (anti-HBs <10 mIU /mL), respectively. Results Out of 310 women, prevalence of chronic HBV infection was 6.2%. Prevalence in the West Nile region was notably higher than in the Central region (11.0% vs. 1.3%), p<0.001. In both regions, majority of pregnant women (61% West Nile region, 76% Central region) were still susceptible to HBV. Overall, proportion who had been tested for HBV and those who reported having been vaccinated was only 5.8% and 11.3% respectively. Conclusion Our findings reveal the burden of HBV in Ugandan pregnant women is still high, with marked regional differences in disease prevalence, and poor levels of HBV testing and vaccination. These data suggest that HBV prevention programs and policies in resource-limited settings like Uganda may need to consider the differential HBV prevalence, as optimizing HBV prevention services in higher prevalence