Hepatitis B Virus, Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1, and Syphilis among Women Attending Prenatal Clinics in Belize, Central America

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  • Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Epidemiologic Research Center, Division of Viral Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Bethesda, Maryland, Belize

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.