Original Research

Hepatitis B virus infection and HBeAg positivity among pregnant women in South West Uganda

Naome Mugabiirwe, Rogers Kalyetsi, Richard Ayella, James Obote, Frank Ssedyabane
African Journal of Laboratory Medicine | Vol 11, No 1 | a1784 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v11i1.1784 | © 2022 Naome Mugabiirwe, Rogers Kalyetsi, Richard Ayella, James Obote, Frank Ssedyabane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 November 2021 | Published: 18 August 2022

About the author(s)

Naome Mugabiirwe, Department of Medical Laboratory, Kyazanga Health Centre IV, Lwengo, Uganda
Rogers Kalyetsi, Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda
Richard Ayella, Department of Medical Laboratory, Kyazanga Health Centre IV, Lwengo, Uganda
James Obote, Department of Medical Laboratory, Kyazanga Health Centre IV, Lwengo, Uganda
Frank Ssedyabane, Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Faculty of Medicine, Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara, Uganda


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Abstract

Background: Hepatitis B virus is a public health burden in Uganda, yet little is known about its epidemiology in pregnancy.

Objective: This study aimed at determining the prevalence and associated risk factors of hepatitis B virus infection among pregnant women attending antenatal care at the Kyazanga Health Centre IV in Lwengo District, Uganda.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted from April 2021 to June 2021 and analysed qualitative data that were collected using a structured in-person questionnaire. Aseptically collected blood specimens were screened for hepatitis B virus infection using an immunochromatographic rapid diagnostic test kit. Participants who were positive for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) were further screened for hepatitis B envelope antigen (HBeAg) using commercial rapid diagnostic test kits.

Results: Out of 384 pregnant women studied, eight tested positive for HBsAg. This gave a prevalence of 2.1% (95% confidence interval: 1.0% – 4.1%); 5/8 (62.5%) were positive for HBeAg. None of the variables studied were significantly associated with HBsAg positivity among pregnant women.

Conclusion: Hepatitis B viral infection is still a public health challenge in pregnant women with possible risk for vertical transmission to their babies in the study area. We recommend routine screening for hepatitis B virus in pregnancy in addition to strengthening current strategies aimed at controlling and preventing hepatitis B infection spread and transmission.


Keywords

risk factors; hepatitis B; pregnant women; prevalence; Uganda

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