Background: The paucity of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA measurement in low-/middle-income countries hinders the identification of HBV-infected pregnant women at risk of perinatal transmission. This study evaluates the validity of an algorithm selecting HBeAg-positive women and HBeAg-negative women with alanine aminotransferase (ALT) ≥40 IU/L as a predictor of high HBV DNA level.
Methods: All women with reactive samples for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) were assessed with an SD BIOLINE HBeAg rapid test and HBV DNA quantification was performed. Validities of HBeAg and of the algorithm to identify HBV DNA >2 thresholds (5.3 and 7.3 log10 IU/mL) were evaluated.
Results: For the 515 HBsAg-positive women, median age was 29 years, 92 (17.9%) were HBeAg positive, 47 (9.1%) were HBeAg negative with ALT ≥40 IU/L, and 144 (28.0%) had an HBV DNA >5.3 log10 IU/mL. Sensitivity and specificity of HBeAg were 61.8% and 99.2% for HBV DNA >5.3 log10 IU/mL and 81.3% and 96.7% for HBV DNA >7.3 log10 IU/mL. For the algorithm, sensitivity and specificity were 79.2% and 93.3% for HBV DNA level >5.3 log10 IU/mL and 92.7% and 88.1% for HBV DNA >7.3 log10 IU/mL. The AUCs for the algorithm (0.92 and 0.94 for HBV DNA >5.3 and 7.3, respectively) were significantly greater (P < .001) than the AUCs for HBeAg (0.81 and 0.89 for HBV DNA >5.3 and 7.3, respectively).
Conclusions: An algorithm using HBeAg and ALT level could be an effective strategy to identify HBV-infected pregnant women at risk of perinatal transmission in countries where HBV DNA quantification is not routinely available.
Keywords: HBeAg rapid test; Western-Pacific area; hepatitis B; mother-to-child transmission; public health.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.