Serologic Markers of Hepatitis A and B in the Population of Bali, Indonesia

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  • * Laboratory of CNS Studies, NINCDS, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland
  • Department of Anthropology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
  • Hepatitis Branch, Division of Blood and Blood Products, National Center for Drugs and Biologics, Bethesda, Maryland
  • § Department of Human Genetics, CHUV, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • Faculty of Medicine, University of Udayana, Denpasar, Indonesia

A total of 343 sera from Balinese subjects in different age groups and geographic locations were tested by radioimmunoassay (RIA) for serum antibodies to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs) and hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc); most sera were also tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and for antibody to hepatitis A virus (anti-HAV). One hundred percent of the adult population was found to have anti-HAV, with antibody acquisition beginning in early childhood and reaching a level of 95% by the age of 10 years. Antibodies to hepatitis B virus were also frequent in young children, rapidly peaking to near 80% in older children and adolescents, then declining to a plateau that fluctuated between 40% and 60% throughout adult life. Overall, anti-HBc (49%) was detected slightly more often than anti-HBs (45%), but the relative frequencies of the 2 antibodies varied considerably from group to group. Despite these high antibody prevalences, HBsAg was detected in only 1.5% of the general population, and in no woman of child-bearing age. In utero infection is thus far less likely to account for the early acquisition of antibody to hepatitis B virus than inapparent percutaneous transmission occurring under conditions of close personal contact.