Prevalence, infectivity and correlates of hepatitis B virus infection among pregnant women in a rural district of the Far North Region of Cameroon

BACKGROUND:Epidemiological data on hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection among pregnant women in Cameroon are very scarce, especially in the rural milieu. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and factors associated with HBV infection, and the infectivity of rural pregnant women in the Far North Region of Cameroon. METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in three rural health facilities of the Guidiguis health district between December 2013 and March 2014. We consecutively recruited 325 pregnant women attending antenatal consultations. A pretested questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic data and factors associated with HBV infection. The presence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) were determined using commercial test strips. Regression analyses were used to assess correlates of HBV infection. RESULTS: The mean age was 24.4 (SD5.6) years. Most women were married (97.2%) and housewives (96.4%), with less than secondary education level (80%). Only 4 women (1.2%) had been vaccinated against HBV. Thirty-three women (10.2%) were HBsAg-positive, of whom 4 (12.1%) were positive to HBeAg. The prevalence of HIV infection was 2.5% (8/325). Overall, 5 (1.5%) women were co-infected with HIV and HBV. Independent correlates of HBV infection included history of blood transfusion (adjusted odd ratio 12.59, 95% CI 1.46-108.89; p=0.021) and concurrent infection by HIV (adjusted odd ratio 22.53, 95% CI 4.76-106.71; p<0.0001). CONCLUSION: The prevalence of HBV infection among pregnant women in this rural milieu is high. History of blood transfusion and HIV infection are highly associated with HBV infection. The relative low rate of women positive to both HBsAg and HBeAg suggests that perinatal transmission of HBV might not be the prevailing mode of HBV transmission in this area.