Prevalence of hepatitis B and C viral infections in patient's tentatively diagnosed with liver diseases at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital
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Viral infections of the liver are mainly due to a number of hepatitis virus strains which include Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Both Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses cause many liver damages that range from minor disorders to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Co-infection of HBV and HCV among exposed individuals is made possible because of shared modes of transmission. However, the prevalence of HBV and HCV as well as their co-infections among patients with liver diseases in Uganda is not well documented. Therefore, this study aimed at investigating the prevalence of Hepatitis B and C viral infections in patients diagnosed with liver diseases at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital. In the months of November and December 2021, a cross-sectional study was conducted to determine the prevalence of Hepatitis B and C infections using HBsAg and Anti-HCV rapid strip respectively in patients that had been tentatively diagnosed with liver diseases at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital. A total of 104 patients were recruited after obtaining their formal consent. Among the 104 patients involved in this study, a total of 12 (11.5%) participants tested positive for either HBV or HCV. The prevalence of HBV was 10.6% (n=11) whereas that of HCV was 1.0% (n=1). Although males had prevalences of 16.7% (8 of 48) HBV and 2.1% (1 of 48) HCV, that of females were; 0.0% and 5.4% (3 of 56) for HCV and HBV respectively. HBV and HCV co-infection was uncommon at 1.0% (n=1). Infection transmission was constant (3%) in age groups of >20 and <50 years while no infection was detected among individuals under age groups of <10 and >70. Generally, the prevalence of HBV was higher compared to that of HCV. Males had higher infections than females. The rate of co-infection of HBV and HCV was not common. Of the infected age groups, the highest infection was observed in individuals of age groups of >20 and <50 years. It is recommended that; similar studies be carried out in various parts of the country to establish the current overall status of HBV and HCV. Mandatory screening for hepatitis infections in individuals diagnosed with liver disease should be implemented including tests that are specific for the diagnosis of active HCV infections such as HCV RNA, and HCV IgM so that positive ones receive adequate clinical treatment.