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Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a public health problem worldwide with a high burden in Sub-Saharan Africa. This burden is more felt in the paediatric population, mother to child transmission (MTCT) being a major mode of infection. This study sought to determine the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) positivity in pregnant women and to identify the factors associated with HBsAg positivity.
Methods: This was a retrospective study that involved third trimester pregnant women who attended antenatal care (ANC) and those in the post-partum period admitted at the maternity wards from 15th January to the 15th April, 2018. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire. HBsAg status was recorded from the participants result sheets of laboratory investigations requested at booking visit and from ANC registers. Data was analysed using SPSS version 23.
Results: Of the 349 women studied, 314 (90.0%) had previously screened during the ongoing pregnancy. The prevalence of HBsAg positivity among the screened women was 8.9% (95% CI: 5.4%- 12.4%). The prevalence was highest among the age group 20 to 25 years (10.7%) and in multiparous women (9.4%). A history of multiple sexual partners was associated with HBsAg positivity (OR: 10.9, CI: 1.5– 80.9, p: 0.04). However, none of the socio-demographic and obstetrical variables used in this study was associated with HBsAg positivity. HBV/HIV co-infection rate was 0.7%.
Conclusion: HBV infection was hyper- endemic in the southwest region of Cameroon. About one in ten pregnant women was infected with HBV infection. The scarcity of risk factors in this group highlights the fact that hepatitis B screening in pregnancy should be made a routine practice and not only based on risk factors.