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Original research
The epidemiology of hepatitis delta virus infection in Cameroon

Abstract

Objective To investigate the distribution and risk factors of hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection in Cameroon.

Design We tested for hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen (HBsAg) and anti-HDV antibody 14 150 samples collected during a survey whose participants were representative of the Cameroonian adult population. The samples had already been tested for hepatitis C virus and HIV antibodies.

Results Overall, 1621/14 150 (weighted prevalence=11.9%) participants were HBsAg positive, among whom 224/1621 (10.6%) were anti-HDV positive. In 2011, the estimated numbers of HBsAg positive and HDV seropositives were 1 160 799 and 122 910 in the 15–49 years age group, respectively. There were substantial regional variations in prevalence of chronic HBV infection, but even more so for HDV (from 1% to 54%). In multivariable analysis, HDV seropositivity was independently associated with living with an HDV-seropositive person (OR=8.80; 95% CI: 3.23 to 24.0), being HIV infected (OR=2.82; 95% CI: 1.32 to 6.02) and living in the South (latitude <4°N) while having rural/outdoor work (OR=15.2; 95% CI: 8.35 to 27.6, when compared with living on latitude ≥4°N and not having rural/outdoor work).

Conclusion We found evidence for effective intra-household transmission of HDV in Cameroon. We also identified large differences in prevalence between regions, with cases concentrated in forested areas close to the Equator, as described in other tropical areas. The reasons underlying these geographical variations in HDV prevalence deserve further investigation.

  • hepatitis D
  • epidemiology

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