Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains a public health problem in Indonesia. There has been limited data regarding HBV infection in young adult population. This study aimed to evaluate the seroepidemiology of HBV infection and characterize occult HBV variants in healthy young adults in Banjarmasin, Indonesia, who were born before the implementation of the universal infant hepatitis B vaccination. Serum samples of 195 healthy young adults were tested for HBsAg, anti-HBc, and anti-HBs. The prevalence of HBsAg, anti-HBc, and anti-HBs was 9 (4.6%), 62 (31.8%), and 96 (49.2%), respectively. Seventy four (37.9%) samples were seronegative for all three parameters, indicating the susceptibility to HBV infection. Among 66 samples positive for HBsAg and/or anti-HBc, 13 (19.7%) were HBV DNA positive; of these, four were HBsAg positive and nine were HBsAg negative, and categorized as occult HBV infection. Most occult HBV cases had high-level anti-HBs (>100 IU/l), suggesting that blood with positive anti-HBs and anti-HBc could not be regarded as noninfectious. Thirteen amino acid substitutions were identified: T126S, P127S, Q129R, T131N, M133T, and Y161S in the HBsAg-positive group; P120T, T126I, G145S, Y161F, E164V, and V168F in the occult-HBV group; and T143S in both groups. More studies are required to provide data on the prevalence and characteristics of mutants to ensure reliable diagnosis. The occult HBV infection, combined with the HBsAg prevalence, could indicate the high HBV carriage among young adults in this area. The high percentage of individuals susceptible to HBV infection reiterates the need for catch-up immunization strategies targeted at young adults.
Keywords: HBV mutation; HBsAg mutant; antigenic index; hepatitis B virus; occult hepatitis B.
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.