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Seroepidemiology of hepatitis B virus in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: transmission patterns and vaccine control

  • A. ABEBE (a1), D. J. NOKES (a2), A. DEJENE (a3), F. ENQUSELASSIE (a2) (a4), T. MESSELE (a5) and F. T. CUTTS (a6)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 September 2003

A community-based seroepidemiological survey of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia was conducted in 1994 to inform on the transmission dynamics and control of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Venous blood from 4736 individuals under 50 years of age from 1262 households, selected using stratified cluster-sampling, was screened for HBV markers using commercial ELISAs. HBsAg prevalence was 7% (95% CI 6–8), higher in males (9%; 7–10) than females (5%; 4–6). HBeAg prevalence in HBsAg positives was 23% (18–29), and less than 1% of women of childbearing age were HBeAg positive. Overall HBV seroprevalence (any marker), rose steadily with age to over 70% in 40–49 year olds, indicating significant childhood and adult transmission. Estimated instantaneous incidence was 3–4/100 susceptibles/year, higher in males than females in 0–4 year olds, and peaking in early childhood and young adults. The age at which 50% had evidence of infection was around 20 years, and the herd immunity threshold is approximated at 63–77%. Addis Ababa is of intermediate-high HBV endemicity, with negligible perinatal transmission. Our main findings are the identification of a significant difference between males and females in the age-acquisition of HBV infection, and marked differences between age groups in HBV incidence rates. These results should target future research studies of underlying risk factors. Furthermore, we generate a crude estimate of the level of coverage of HBV vaccine that would be required to eliminate the virus from the study population.

Corresponding author
Welcome Trust Research Laboratories, Kenya Units, PO Box 230, Kilifi, Kenya.
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Epidemiology & Infection
  • ISSN: 0950-2688
  • EISSN: 1469-4409
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