Hepatitis C virus seroprevalence in the general female population of 9 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa
BACKGROUND Mongolia has one of the highest rates of viral hepatitis infections worldwide yet risk factors have been largely unstudied. This sentinel study of hepatitis infection in Mongolia determined the prevalence of hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV) among a sample of blood donors and identified demographic and behavioral factors associated with hepatitis infection. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS Data were collected by interview from 923 Ministry of Health Blood Center donors between August 2004 and February 2005. The exposure variables collected included donor demographics and health and behavioral risk factors. Bivariate and multivariate analyses assessed the prevalence ratio of hepatitis infection for each exposure. RESULTS Of 923 donors, 72 tested positive for HBsAg (7.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 6.1%-9.7%), 89 donors tested positive for anti-HCV (9.6%; 95% CI, 7.8%-11.5%), and six (0.6%) tested positive for both HBsAg and anti-HCV. Prevalence of HBsAg was highest among donors 18 to 19 years and anti-HCV tended to be most prevalent among those more than 40 years of age. Both pregnancy and alcohol use were associated with seroprevalent anti-HCV. CONCLUSION This sentinel study of hepatitis prevalence among Mongolian blood donors sheds considerable light on the epidemiology of hepatitis virus infection as well as the sociodemographic and behavioral risk factors associated with infection. Young age (HBsAg) and pregnancy (anti-HCV) were significant risk factors for hepatitis virus infection, indicating that improvements in education, vaccination rates, and general infection control procedures in health care institutions may reduce behavioral and nosocomial transmission.