Volume 56, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



Women and their infants may benefit from therapeutic interventions when hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), or syphilis are detected during the prenatal period. We initiated hepatitis B and HIV screening of women attending prenatal clinics in Belize. Risk factor assessment information for hepatitis B infection and demographic data were determined by interview. Of 543 evaluable women, 81 (14.9%) were seropositive for hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc); one woman had asymptomatic hepatitis B surface antigenemia. Antibodies to HIV-1 were detected in one woman. Reactive syphilis serologies were detected in 15 (2.8%) women. Anti-HBc seroprevalence varied by district (range 3.1–43.5%) and by ethnicity (range 0.0–40.9%). Significant identified risks for anti-HBc seropositivity from univariate analyses included being of the Garifuna ethnic group, residence or birth in the Stann Creek or Toledo districts, a reactive syphilis serology, a household size of eight or greater, and five or more lifetime sexual partners. Multivariate analyses identified ethnicity and a reactive rapid plasma reagin as the best predictors of anti-HBc seropositivity. Highly variable differences in anti-HBc prevalence by district may permit the targeting of limited public health resources for education, screening, and prevention programs.


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