Markers of hepatitis B virus infection and immunity in Victoria, Australia, 1995 to 2005
Article first published online: 9 FEB 2010
© 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2010 Public Health Association of Australia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 34, Issue 1, pages 72–78, February 2010
How to Cite
Cowie, B., Karapanagiotidis, T., Enriquez, A. and Kelly, H. (2010), Markers of hepatitis B virus infection and immunity in Victoria, Australia, 1995 to 2005. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34: 72–78. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2010.00477.x
- Issue published online: 9 FEB 2010
- Article first published online: 9 FEB 2010
- Submitted: June 2009 Revision requested: August 2009 Accepted: August 2009
- hepatitis B;
- hepatitis B virus;
- public health;
Objective: Estimating the prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in generally low-prevalence populations containing communities with a higher disease burden is difficult. This study was conducted to estimate the prevalence of serological markers of infection with, and immunity to, HBV in the Victorian population and to analyse trends in these estimates over time.
Methods: A serological survey of 3,212 samples of convenience collected in the years 1995, 2000 and 2005 was conducted using a selection procedure designed to reduce selection bias. All samples were tested for hepatitis B surface and core antibodies; all core antibody positive samples (indicating previous infection) were then tested for the presence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg).
Results: HBsAg prevalence was 1.1% (95%CI 0.8-1.6%) with significant differences observed by area of residence, age, gender and test year. Serological evidence of immunisation in infants and adolescents were lower than established estimates following the introduction of universal vaccination for these groups.
Conclusions: This study emphasises the significant and growing problem of chronic HBV infection in Victoria and suggests lower than expected population immunity deriving from universal vaccination programs.
Implications: Greater efforts are needed to formulate a comprehensive public health response to address this relatively neglected blood borne viral infection, the burden of which is very significant in some marginalised sections of our community. Increased attention to improving the universality of our immunisation programs is also needed.