BACKGROUND & AIMS: Viral hepatitis is a major public health challenge in Egypt but little is known about the epidemiology of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, its geographical distribution, or risk factors for infection in the Egyptian context. This study addresses this deficit using data from a nationally representative survey.
METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of data gathered from men and women aged 15-59 in the Egypt Health Issues Survey (EHIS) 2015, including logistic regression to evaluate the contribution of different factors to risk of HBV infection. This was supplemented by spatial analysis of the distribution of acute or chronic HBV infection at governorate level, and the ecological relationship between HBV and HCV infections.
RESULTS: Population HBV prevalence was 1.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2-1.6), with a HBV-HCV co-infection rate of 0.06%. Spatial analysis showed localisation of HBV infected individuals primarily to urban areas of Upper Egypt (in contrast to HCV for which prevalence is highest in rural Lower Egypt), and those in early middle age (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] 3.32, 95% CI: 1.66-6.63). HBV positive status among other household members emerged as a powerful driver of infection risk in this analysis (AOR=10.75, 95% CI: 4.98-23.24).
CONCLUSION: Spatial distribution of HBV infection in Egypt differs markedly from HCV and co-infection rates are low. Within-household transmissions appear to be particularly important in explaining the persistence of HBV infection in the general population. Prevention strategies should focus on urban Upper Egypt, and particularly those households with documented cases of infection.