Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are hepatotropic viruses of public health significance worldwide. Despite their severe clinical impact in HIV-infected patients, there is inadequate information regarding the epidemiology of hepatitis/HIV coinfections in Ethiopia. Thus, this study aimed to determine the prevalence of HBV and HCV infections among HIV-infected patients at a tertiary hospital in Southern Ethiopia.
Stored sera, which were originally collected for the investigation of syphilis among HIV-infected clients, were analyzed in this study. Samples were tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibody to hepatitis B core antigen using rapid diagnostic tests. Those samples that tested positive for HBsAg were further analyzed for hepatitis B e antigen. All sera were tested for antibody to HCV infection using rapid diagnostic test.
HBsAg was positive for 6.3% of the participants; of whom, 10% were positive for hepatitis B e antigen. The exposure rates to HBV (antibody to hepatitis B core antigen) and HCV (anti-HCV) infections were 22.4 and 3.1%, respectively. The rates of coinfections with HBV-syphilis, HCV-syphilis, and HBV-HCV were found to be 3.1, 0.6, and 1.3%, respectively. HBV exposure rate was significantly higher among participants in the age range 40-49 years (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.98; 95% CI, 1.01-3.88) and those who had a CD4+ T cell count <200 cells/μL (AOR, 2.40; 95% CI, 1.13-5.10) and 200-349 cells/μL (AOR, 2.36; 95% CI, 1.28-4.35).
The rates of HBV and HCV infections were found to be similar to other subpopulations in Ethiopia. Age and CD4+ T cell level influenced the rate of HBV exposure. As human immunodeficiency virus-hepatitis coinfections are clinically consequential in people living with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, the need to screen this population for HBV and HCV infections is critically important.