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Hepatitis B virus infection in Aseer Region, south-western Saudi Arabia: a call for an immediate action against a preventable disease.

Public Health; 146: 24-28, 2017 May.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28404469


The present study was designed as a large-scale cross-sectional study to cast some light on the magnitude of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in Aseer Region, south-western Saudi Arabia, a region reported to be of the highest endemicity.


During the WHO hepatitis day of 2013, an aggressive health education campaign was launched in all the hospitals and primary health care centres in Aseer Region. Posters were distributed to encourage the local population to visit the health facilities to be tested for HBV. They were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Detection of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was done using a fourth-generation ELISA kits.


The present study included 10,234 persons. The study revealed an overall seroprevalence of 5.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.5-6.4%). A seroprevalence of 0.8% (95% CI = 0.2-2.1%) was found among persons aged less than 15 years, and a seroprevalence of 1.3% (95% CI = 0.4-2.9%) was found among persons aged 15-24 years. On the other hand, among persons aged 25 years and over (who were born before the expanded programme on immunization [EPI]), a seroprevalence of 6.3% (95% CI = 5.8-6.8%) was found. Pockets of unvaccinated individuals were identified.


The present study has documented the efficacy of vaccination in protecting against HBV infection. It also identified the presence of pockets of unvaccinated persons requiring further investigations. Aggressive health education programmes and 'catch-up' mass vaccination of those aged over 25 years is mandatory.