Prevalence of markers of hepatitis B in the adult German population



The prevalence of hepatitis B virus markers was investigated in 5305 individuals considered to be representative for the adult German population. After adjustment of the data according to the age and sex distribution in the whole German population an anti-HBc prevalence of 8.71% (95% confidence interval, 7.94–9.48%) and an HBsAg carrier rate of 0.62% (95% confidence interval, 0.40–0.84%) were calculated. Anti-HBc prevalence increased with age from 4.12% in the youngest group to 15.66% in the 61–70-year-old. The percentage of HBsAg carriers showed a maximum of 1.12% in the 41–50-year-old individuals and decreased significantly in the older age groups. 1.40% (95% confidence interval, 1.08–1.72%) of individuals had anti-HBc only. There was a trend to higher rates of this pattern in males than in females; a significantly higher percentage of persons with anti-HBc only was found in anti-HBc-positive individuals below 31 years than in older individuals. Five participants with anti-HBc only (7.7%, or about 0.1% of the whole population) showed HBV-DNA despite the absence of HBsAg. 3.1% of anti-HBc positive individuals where also positive for anti-HCV, that was significantly higher than the percentage of anti-HCV-positives among persons without any HBV marker (0.46%). This study provides a comprehensive picture of the current hepatitis B situation in Germany, showing new data especially on the distribution of HBsAg in the general population and on the subgroup of individuals with anti-HBc only. J. Med. Virol. 63:96–102, 2001. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.