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Prevalence of Hepatitis B and C Virus Infections: Influence of National Health Care Policies and Local Clinical Practices

Veeravan Lekskulchai

Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Srinakharinwirot University, Bangkok, Thailand

Med Sci Monit Basic Res 2021; 27:e933692

DOI: 10.12659/MSMBR.933692

Available online: 2021-11-01

Published: 2021-11-01


BACKGROUND: Because reliable epidemiological data are necessary to eliminate hepatitis B and C virus (HBV and HCV) infections, factors influencing their prevalence should be determined. This study aimed to disclose practical issues that affect the prevalence of these viral infections.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: All medical records with laboratory findings during 2016 to 2018 were reviewed, and all relevant data were extracted. All HBV and HCV infections were followed within these 3 years and investigated in detail.
RESULTS: The total number of records was 103 197, with a male to female ratio of 1: 1.4. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was tested in 12 934 cases, with a male to female ratio of 1: 2.6. Anti-HCV antibody (anti-HCV Ab) testing was done in 475 cases (53% male). The seroprevalence of HBV and HCV was 5.2% and 4.4%, respectively. Chronic HBV and HCV infections and their life-threatening complication, liver cancer, were highly detected in men aged 41-60 years.
CONCLUSIONS: HBsAg was highly screened in women owing to the nationwide implementation of the universal HBsAg screening in pregnant women to prevent vertical transmission. Screening for anti-HCV Ab was neglected, probably due to lack of vaccine and high costs of anti-HCV drugs, which most people in low- to middle-income countries generally cannot afford. Local practices under national health care policies and limited budget and resources can cause underestimation of the prevalence of the HBV and HCV infections and persistent transmission of these viruses owing to unidentified cases.

Keywords: Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Prevalence, Seroepidemiologic Studies