Background: Infections due to the hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) viruses constitute a global public health problem. Although screening of these infections remains a pivotal tool for timely detection and management of carriers, this preventive measure has been neglected in Africa.
Objective: The current study determined the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and anti-HCV as well as their risk factors through a screening campaign organized in a rural setting in northern Cameroon.
Methods: A cross-sectional analytical study was conducted during a screening campaign for viral hepatitis organized at the Mokolo District Hospital, Cameroon, from January 19, 2017 to February 27, 2017. Sociodemographic data from all consenting participants was collected and each participant was examined for signs of chronic liver disease. Participants were then screened for HBsAg and anti-HCV using a rapid diagnostic test (ACON®).
Results: Of the 364 participants enrolled, 28.6% tested positive for HBsAg and 2.2% for anti-HCV. All HBsAg-positive and anti-HCV-positive individuals were asymptomatic and unaware of their infection status prior to testing. None of the socio-demographic factors assessed was associated with a positive HbsAg status.
Conclusion: HBV and HCV infections are endemic in this rural health district. Participants who tested positive were apparently healthy and completely unaware of their infection status. Transmission of the hepatitis virus may be a public health concern in this district. It is recommended that community health education activities on preventive measures for HBV and HCV infections, regular screening for disease surveillance, and close follow-up of disease progression in these asymptomatic individuals be conducted.
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Author Name: Abdoul Rahamane Njigou, Joël Noutakdie Tochie, Celestin Danwang, Frank-Leonel Tianyi, Ronni Tankeu, Veronica Aletum, Mazou N. Temgoua
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Keywords: Hepatitis B Virus, Hepatitis C Virus, Rural, Cameroon, Screening, Seroprevalence