Original Research

Hepatitis B and HIV co-infection in South Africa: Just treat it!

Cynthia S Firnhaber, Prue Ive
Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine | Vol 10, No 1 | a998 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhivmed.v10i1.998 | © 2019 Cynthia S Firnhaber, Prue Ive | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 June 2019 | Published: 23 March 2009

About the author(s)

Cynthia S Firnhaber, Clinical HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; Right to Care, Johannesburg, South Africa
Prue Ive, Clinical HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Abstract

There are an estimated 350 million hepatitis B carriers worldwide. The prevalence of mono-infection with hepatitis B in South Africa has been estimated at approximately 10% for the rural population and 1% in urban areas. The transmission routes of hepatitis B and HIV are similar, but hepatitis B is more efficient. Co-infection with HIV and hepatitis B is therefore not unusual. Recent studies have shown that the prevalence of HIV/HBV co-infection (using HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) as a marker for HBV) in South Africa ranges from 4.8% to 17%, depending on the population studied.
The guidelines for the South African HIV Comprehensive Care, Management and Treatment (CCMT) programme do not include viral hepatitis studies. Hepatitis B serology is usually done only if serum aminotransferases are evaluated in the absence of another known cause (e.g. tuberculosis and concomitant medications). The clinical sequelae of HIV/HBV co-infection are multiple and can cause an increase in morbidity and mortality. Awareness of HBV/HIV co-infection with appropriate diagnosis and management is imperative for improved care of our HIV patients.


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