High rates of occult HBV in Botswana: risks from relying on HBsAg screening

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

Although screening for hepatitis B often relies on testing for HBsAg, a poster at IAS 2023 with data from two longitudinal HIV studies in Botswana reported high rates of occult HBV infection (OBI) that can still cause liver disease and be transmissible.

This highlights an advantage from using triple therapy ART that is active against both HIV and HBV.

The study tested for HBsAg using ELISA and negative samples were screened for OBI using an in-house real-time PCR.

Baseline prevalence of HBsAg and OBI was 2.1% (8/382) and 14.7% (11/75), respectively.

During a median of 1.02 years follow-up (IQR: 1.00 to 2.00) in 90 participants, there were 34 incident OBI cases, with an IR of 26.4/100 person-years (95% CI: 18.9 to 36.9). The median time to incident OBI was 372 days (IQR: 365 to 730). 


Anderson M et al. Incidence of occult hepatitis B virus among people living with HIV in Botswana, IAS 2023. poster abstract EPB0158. (abstract) (poster)

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