Objectives: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major public health problem worldwide. The prevalence of HBV is dependent on the modes of transmission. Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) infection can progress to liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Oman is regarded as an intermediate endemic region and has had a neonatal vaccine against HBV since 1990. However, little research has been conducted regarding risk factors for HBV transmission. Our study aimed to identify the prevalence of major risk factors for acquiring HBV in Oman.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of all adult Omani patients diagnosed with CHB at two tertiary hospitals in Oman, Sultan Qaboos University Hospital and Armed Forces Hospital, between February 2009 and July 2013. The prevalence of major risk factors was identified by interviewing CHB patients using a standard questionnaire during their follow-up visits to the hepatology clinic at both hospitals. The risk factor frequency was stratified by age, gender, and educational level.
Results: A total of 274 patients were interviewed; 52.2% of the participants were males. The median age for men was 35.9 years and 35.1 years for women, with 75.5% aged 20-39 years old. The antenatal screening was the most common means of identifying HBV infection in females, and pre-blood donation screening was the most common in males. Intra-familial contact with HBV infected persons and behavioral risks such as body piercing (females) and barber shaving (males) were more common than nosocomial risk factors. Knowledge about HBV infection was scarce among our participants. More than half of the participants had a positive family history of HBV infection. There was a significant association between HBV infection and age groups, and educational levels (p < 0.050 and p < 0.001, respectively). Among those who were infected due to intra-familial contact or behavioral risk, there was a significant difference between the two sexes (p < 0.020) and between the three age groups (< 23, 23-28, >28) of HBV positive mothers (33.3%, 14.3%, and 6.6%, respectively; p < 0.050). There was also a statistically significant difference among different educational levels (p < 0.050).
Conclusions: Direct contact of infected individuals within a family and exposure to high-risk behaviors such as piercing and barber shaving are the main reported risk factors for HBV infection in Omani patients. Reducing the vertical and horizontal transmission of HBV in Oman could be improved by implementing routine antenatal screening of pregnant women and a greater focus on contact screening, respectively.
- Hepatitis B virus
- Retrospective Studies
- Risk Factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- General Medicine