Cadernos de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1678-4464
Print version ISSN 0102-311X
MONSALVE-CASTILLO, Francisca et al. High prevalence of hepatitis B infection in Amerindians in Japreira, Zulia State, Venezuela. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2008, vol.24, n.5, pp.1183-1186. ISSN 1678-4464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X2008000500028.
The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the Japreira indigenous community, Venezuela, and its relationship to age and gender. An intentional, non-probabilistic sample of 149 individuals was selected from a total of 300. All samples were studied for the presence of total HBV antibodies (total anti-HBc), and the positive samples were tested for HBV surface and "e" antigens (HBsAg, HBeAg). Overall prevalence rates of total anti-HBc were 72.9% in females and 81.1% in males. The highest prevalence of HBsAg was observed in males 26-35 years of age. Only four of the 44 HBsAg carriers were positive for HBeAg. The results showed a high endemic HBV infection rate and indicated that its spread begins at early ages. Sexual transmission may be the main route for spread of the virus. Crowding, close contact with bodily fluids, specific social practices, and features of the circulating viral strain among members of this community could be involved in the high chronicity observed in the Japreira indigenous community.
Keywords : Hepatitis B Virus; South American Indians; Indigenous Health.