HIV co-infection with hepatitis B and C viruses among Nigerian children in an antiretroviral treatment programme
Background. Nigeria has one of the world’s largest burdens of children living with HIV and is highly endemic for hepatitis B. This study set out to determine the prevalence of hepatitis B and C infections among HIV-infected children and to identify the factors associated with these co-infections. Method. We studied 155 HIV-infected children. Information on socio-demographics and history of exposure to risk factors such as scarification, blood transfusion, unsafe injections and circumcision were obtained. All the children were tested for the presence of hepatitis B surface antigen and antibodies to hepatitis C. Result. The prevalence of HIV/HBV co-infection was 7.7%, while that of HIV/HCV co-infection was 5.2%. No child was co-infected with all three viruses. Children who were co-infected with HCV were more likely to be older than 5 years. There was no significant association between co-infection with either of the hepatitis viruses and socio-economic status, gender, number of persons living in the household, World Health Organization clinical stage, route of acquisition of HIV, scarification, blood transfusion, unsafe injection or circumcision. Conclusion. The rate of HIV co-infection with hepatitis B and C in children is significant. HIV-infected children should be screened for these viruses. Those found to be negative and not immunised for hepatitis B should be immunised. Since the natural history of these coinfections in children is not known, it is imperative that affected patients be followed up adequately.