Hepatitis B and Hiv in Sudan: a Serosurvey for Hepatitis B and Human Immunodeficiency Virus Antibodies among Sexually Active Heterosexuals

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  • U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3, Central Public Health Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Health, Omdurman Military Hospital, U.S. Naval Medical Research Institute, Cairo, Egypt

A serosurvey was conducted in Port Sudan and Suakin, Sudan in October and March 1987 to determine the prevalence and risk factors associated with the transmission of hepatitis B, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), and syphilis among sexually active heterosexuals on the coast of Sudan. A total of 536 subjects, including 202 female prostitutes, 95 long-distance truck drivers, 103 soldiers, 72 Ethiopian refugees, and 54 Sudanese outpatients, were enrolled in the study. Seventy-eight percent (202/259) of the female study subjects were engaged in prostitution, and 57% (157/277) of the men admitted to prior sexual relations with prostitutes. Serologic markers for hepatitis B and syphilis were detected in 68% and 17% of the entire study population, respectively. In contrast, antibody to HIV-1 was detected in none of the 536 sera tested. Risk factors found to be independently predictive of hepatitis B infection by multivariate analysis included prostitution, positive serology for syphilis, and a history of anti-schistosomal therapy. The absence of HIV-1 infection among the prostitutes enrolled in this study is in marked contrast to the current AIDS epidemic in neighboring sub-Saharan countries, suggesting that HIV-1 has not been widely introduced on the coast of Sudan. The high prevalence of serologic markers to hepatitis B and syphilis, however, indicates a potential for HIV-1 in this region.