To examine hepatitis B (HBV) serological markers and plasma DNA concentrations in a large group of untreated HBV/HIV-coinfected individuals in two sub-Saharan settings.Design:
Baseline analysis of a randomized controlled trial.Methods:
DART was a large trial of treatment monitoring practices in HIV-infected adults with advanced disease starting antiretroviral therapy at centres in Kampala or Entebbe, Uganda (n = 2317) and Harare, Zimbabwe (n = 999). HBV serological markers [antibody to HBV core antigen, HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), antibody to HBV surface antigen, HBV ‘e’ antigen (HBeAg), and antibody to hepatitis B ‘e’ antigen] and plasma HBV DNA viral load were measured retrospectively on stored baseline samples. Logistic regression was used to examine associations with baseline demographic and clinical factors.Results:
The rate of HBsAg positivity was significantly higher in Zimbabwe than Uganda (16.7 vs. 6.1%, adjusted odds ratio = 2.99, P < 0.001) despite a similar prevalence of antibody to HBV core antigen (56.3 vs. 52.4%) in the two settings. Overall, HBsAg positivity was associated with male sex (adjusted odds ratio = 1.54, P < 0.001) but not with age, WHO disease stage, or CD4+ cell count. HBeAg was detected among 37% of HBsAg-positive patients, with higher rates among those with advanced WHO stage (P = 0.02). Also in HBsAg-positive patients, HBV DNA was undetectable in 21%, detectable but below the level of quantification in 14%, and quantifiable in 65%. A total of 96% of HBeAg-positive and 70% of HBeAg-negative patients had detectable HBV DNA; 92 and 28% of patients, respectively, had HBV DNA viral load more than 2000 IU/ml.Conclusion:
High rates of HBV coinfection were observed, highlighting the importance of ensuring that coinfected patients receive an antiretroviral regimen, whether first-line or not, that is active against both viruses.