The Prevalence of Hepatitis B Surface Antigen and Anti-Hepatitis B Core Antibody in Iran: A Population-Based Study
Background: Hepatitis B virus infection is a very common cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. It is estimated that 3% of Iranians are chronically infected with hepatitis B virus. Current population-based studies on both rural and urban prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection in Iran are sparse with results that do not always agree. We performed this study to find the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen, anti-hepatitis B core antibody, and associated factors in the general population of three provinces of Iran. Methods: We randomly selected 6,583 subjects from three provinces in Iran, namely Tehran, Golestan, and Hormozgan. The subjects were aged between 18 and 65 years. Serum samples were tested for hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-hepatitis B core antibody. Various risk factors were recorded and multivariate analysis was performed. Results: The prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-hepatitis B core antibody in Iran was 2.6% and 16.4%, respectively. Predictors of hepatitis B surface antigen or anti-hepatitis B core antibody in multivariate analysis included older age, not having high-school diploma, living in a rural area, and liver disease in a family member. We did not find any significant differences between males and females. Conclusion: in spite of nationwide vaccination of newborns against hepatitis B virus since 1992, hepatitis B virus infection remains a very common cause of chronic liver disease in Iran which should be dealt with for at least the next 30 - 50 years.