Studies on Hepatitis B Surface Antigen and Antibody in Nauru

II. Distribution Amongst Gilbert and Ellice (Tuvalu) Islanders

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  • Virus Laboratory, Fairfield Hospital for Communicable Diseases, Department of Metabolic Medicine and Epidemiology, Southern Memorial Hospital, Nauru Phosphate Commission Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria 3078, Australia

The age-specific prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibody was studied in a random sample of Gilbert and Ellice islanders over the age of 10 years living in Nauru. While approximately 82% of each group showed evidence of past infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) the carriage rate of HBsAg was significantly lower in the Polynesian Ellice islanders (7.5%) than in the Micronesian Gilbertese (26.3%) and indigenous Nauruans (14.7%). These findings suggest that Micronesian and Polynesian populations may differ in the response to infection with HBV.