Epidemiology of hepatitis B virus in Africa, its genotypes and clinical associations of genotypes

Authors

  • Anna Kramvis,

    1. MRC/University Molecular Hepatology Research Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • Michael C. Kew

    1. MRC/University Molecular Hepatology Research Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • Conflict of Interest: none.

Professor Anna Kramvis, Department of Internal Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, 7 York Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa. Email: anna.kramvis@wits.ac.za

Abstract

Of approximately 360 million people in the world chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV), 65 million reside in Africa. Thus, Africa, with 12% of the world's population, carries approximately 18% of the global burden of HBV infection, with hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis accounting for 2% of the continent's annual deaths. Despite HBV being endemic or hyperendemic in Africa, there is a paucity of data on the genotypes and their distribution. Genotype A is found mainly in southern, eastern and central Africa. Most African genotype A strains belong to subgenotype A1, with subgenotype A3 found in western Africa. Genotype D prevails in northern countries and genotype E in western and central Africa. Ithas become increasingly evident that heterogeneity in the global distribution of HBV genotypes may be responsible for differences in the clinical outcomes of HBV infections and the response to antiviral treatment and vaccination. A limited number of studies have been published relating genotypes to clinical outcomes in African countries. Because observations from other regions of the world can not be extrapolated from one locale to another, the HBV strains circulating in Africa should be studied and related to clinical outcomes.

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