The prevalence of hepatitis B virus E antigen among Ghanaian blood donors
Hepatitis B viral infection is an important clinical problem due to its worldwide distribution and potential of adverse sequelae, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We studied the prevalence of hepatitis B virus 'e' antigen (HBeAg) among individuals determined to be hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigen- positive and analyzed the gender/age category associated with more active HBV infection and whether alteration in the levels of alanine aminotransferase could be associated with HBeAg positivity. A total of 150 prospective blood donors who tested positive for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) at the blood transfusion center of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hosptital (KATH), Kumasi were randomly selected for the study. The serum samples were further tested for HBsAg and HBeAg using a lateral flow immunochromatographic assay. Twenty (20) individuals were found to be HBeAg-positive giving an overall prevalence of 13.3%, of which 18 (15.5%) were males and 2 (5.9%) were females. Our results also revealed that the prevalence of HBeAg was higher in patients between the age group of 10-20 years and appeared to decrease with increase in age. There was no statistical difference between the HBeAg positive and negative individuals with respect to alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. We show for the first time that approximately 1/10 of HBV-infected individuals are HBeAg positive in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, suggestive of active viral replication and liver-cell infectivity thereby contributing to an increased HBV-transmission pool within the Ghanaian population.
Key words: Prospective blood donors, HBeAg, HBsAg, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Ghana