Objective: Policy makers need data on the prevalence of infection with HBV in order to determine the cost effectiveness of universal immunization against hepatitis B. This study aims at determining the prevalence rate of infection with HBV in a basically healthy group of Lebanese adults.
Methods: Sera from 2634 presumably healthy Lebanese individuals, mean age 32.1 years, obtained between 1995-1997, were tested for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). The sample was composed of subjects residing in different areas in Lebanon. Detection of HBsAg was performed utilizing the ELISA technique. The analysis took place in the Clinical Microbiology Laboratory, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon. Chi-square test was used to examine statistical associations.
Results: The prevalence of HBsAg among the samples was 1.6%. Blue-collar employees, smokers and those living in the South of Lebanon were significantly more likely to be infected with hepatitis B virus.
Conclusions: The data presented indicates that Lebanon has a low prevalence of HBV infection. Costeffective studies are needed to justify universal iminunization against hepatitis B especially in countries where budgets are tight.