Prevalence of Hepatitis B Virus among Health Care Workers in Belize, Central America

Shilpa HakreEpidemiological Research Center, Ministry of Health, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Belize City, Belize

Search for other papers by Shilpa Hakre in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Linda ReyesEpidemiological Research Center, Ministry of Health, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Belize City, Belize

Search for other papers by Linda Reyes in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Joe P. BryanEpidemiological Research Center, Ministry of Health, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Belize City, Belize

Search for other papers by Joe P. Bryan in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
David CruessEpidemiological Research Center, Ministry of Health, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Belize City, Belize

Search for other papers by David Cruess in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

A seroprevalence survey of hepatitis B virus (HBV) markers was conducted among health care workers in Belize to help determine the epidemiology of hepatitis B and to determine if screening before immunization might lower vaccine costs. Of the 330 workers tested, 94 (29%) were positive for antibody to HBV core antigen (anti-HBc) and three (1%) had HBV surface antigen. The presence of anti-HBc increased significantly with age from 12% in those 18–24 years old to 52% in those ≥ 50 years old. The rate was 17% of 48 men compared with 30% of 282 women (P = 0.05). Rates increased with years of medical service and were higher among nurses (69 of 228; 30%) and nonprofessional staff (15 of 44; 34%) than among physicians (0 of 20). The presence of anti-HBc also differed significantly among ethnic groups: Mestizo, 4%; Creole, 33% and Garifuna, 57%. Rates differed by district ranging from 3% in a northern district (mostly Mestizo) to 67% in a southern district (mostly Garifuna). Parenteral exposure to hepatitis B through needle stick injuries and blood transfusions was not associated with anti-HBc. Multiple logistic regression analysis confirmed ethnicity, district of residence, and age as the best predictors of anti-HBc in health care workers. Cost analysis suggests that because of regional differences in exposure, testing of health care workers for anti-HBc in the Belize and Stann Creek districts in southern Belize before hepatitis B immunization would result in vaccine program cost savings.

Save