Prevalence of HIV and hepatitis B virus co-infection in sub-Saharan Africa and the potential impact and program feasibility of hepatitis B surface antigen screening in resource-limited settings

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Apr 15;68 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S274-85. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000496.


Background: Screening people living with HIV for hepatitis B virus (HBV) co-infection is recommended in resource-rich settings to optimize HIV antiretroviral therapy (ART) and mitigate HBV-related liver disease. This review examines the need, feasibility, and impact of screening for HBV in resource-limited settings (RLS).

Methods: We searched 6 databases to identify peer-reviewed publications between 2007 and 2013 addressing (1) HIV/HBV co-infection frequency in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA); (2) performance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) rapid strip assays (RSAs) in RLS; (3) impact of HBV co-infection on morbidity, mortality, or liver disease progression; and/or (4) impact of HBV-suppressive antiretroviral medications as part of ART on at least one of 5 outcomes (mortality, morbidity, HIV transmission, retention in HIV care, or quality of life). We rated the quality of individual articles and summarized the body of evidence and expected impact of each intervention per outcome addressed.

Results: Of 3940 identified studies, 85 were included in the review: 55 addressed HIV/HBV co-infection frequency; 6 described HBsAg RSA performance; and 24 addressed the impact of HIV/HBV co-infection and ART. HIV/HBV frequency in sub-Saharan Africa varied from 0% to >28.4%. RSA performance in RLS showed good, although variable, sensitivity and specificity. Quality of studies ranged from strong to weak. Overall quality of evidence for the impact of HIV/HBV co-infection and ART on morbidity and mortality was fair and good to fair, respectively.

Conclusions: Combined, the body of evidence reviewed suggests that HBsAg screening among people living with HIV could have substantial impact on preventing morbidity and mortality among HIV/HBV co-infected individuals in RLS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Coinfection
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / economics
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / therapy
  • Health Impact Assessment
  • Health Resources
  • Hepatitis B / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis B / economics
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis B / therapy
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / immunology*
  • Hepatitis B virus / immunology
  • Hepatitis B virus / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Quality of Life
  • Reagent Strips


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Reagent Strips