Hepatitis B and Delta virus infection among heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexual men

Eur J Epidemiol. 1988 Dec;4(4):488-91. doi: 10.1007/BF00146404.


The hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis Delta virus (HDV) infection rates were estimated in patients attending a venereal disease outpatient clinic: 759 heterosexuals and 154 homosexual-bisexual men. The anti-HBc prevalence was higher in homo-bisexual men (68.8 per 100) than in heterosexuals (41.8 per 100), whereas HBsAg was roughly the same in the two groups (about 6 per 100). The anti-HBc prevalence rate among heterosexuals was higher than that estimated in hospital personnel from the same geographical area. A positive association between anti-HBc prevalence and present or past sexually transmitted diseases (STD) was found among homo-bisexual men. Anti-HBc was also positively associated with herpes simplex type 2 antibodies in both heterosexuals and homo-bisexual men. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that sexual behavior also plays a role in the spread of infection among heterosexuals. Ten of the 46 HBsAg-positive subjects were anti-HDV positive: 6 of the 36 heterosexuals and 4 of the 10 homosexuals. All HDV-positive subjects had present or past STDs. These findings suggest sexual transmission of HDV infection.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Bisexuality*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis B / transmission
  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens / immunology
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / immunology
  • Hepatitis D / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis D / transmission
  • Homosexuality*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / epidemiology


  • Hepatitis B Core Antigens
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens