n Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - Hepatitis B and HIV co-infection in South Africa : just treat it! : Clinical

Volume 10, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1608-9693
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6751



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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