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Risk factors for hepatitis B surface antigenaemia among secondary school students in Abakaliki, South Eastern Nigeria

K.N. Omeje
R.C. Ibekwe
J.O. Ojukwu
A.F. Una
B.C. Ibe


Background: Majority of secondary school students are adolescents; an age group with a tendency to engage in health compromising risky behaviours in order to deal with anxiety and gain admission to peer groups. This exposes them to risk of Hepatitis B virus infection which is a major public health concern globally and in Nigeria.

Objectives: This study focuses on some common risky behavioural practices that characterize the lifestyle of contemporary adolescent subculture; with a view to determining their effect on HBsAg seroprevalence.

Method: Using multi-stage sampling method, 266 students were selected from 5 secondary schools in Abakaliki. Each subject first filled a questionnaire regarding biodata and history of exposure to risk factors. Subsequently, they were screened for HBsAg using enzyme immunoassay-based chromatographic test kit.

Results: Nine students out of 266 tested positive giving a prevalence value of 3.38%. There was no significant association between gender (p = 0.31) or socioeconomic status (p = 0.81) and the seroprevalence of HBsAg among the subjects. Similarly, none of the risk factors studied, including previous history of jaundice (p = 0.26), blood transfusion (p = 0.24), past history of surgery (p = 0.47), scarification marks (p = 0.17), sharing of sharp objects (p = 0.74), drug injections (p = 0.32), unprotected sex (p = 0.64) and family history of hepatitis (p = 0.79), was significantly associated with HBV infection.

Conclusion: None of the risk factors assessed played significant role in the transmission of HBV among secondary school students in Abakaliki.

Keywords: Hepatitis B surface antigen, Risk factors, Adolescents