Prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection in Tonga: identifying high risk groups for immunization with hepatitis B vaccine.

International Journal of Epidemiology

PubMedID: 2950066

Wainwright RB, McMahon BJ, Bender TR, Heyward WL, Nakanishi S, Wainwright KY, Foliaki S, Erickson SL, Fields HA. Prevalence of hepatitis B virus infection in Tonga: identifying high risk groups for immunization with hepatitis B vaccine. Int J Epidemiol. 1986;15(4):567-71.
A serological survey for evidence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection was conducted in the Kingdom of Tonga as the first step in developing a strategy for an immunization programme. There were 414 individuals from the general population plus 137 pregnant women included in the survey. HBsAg was found in 20% of the general population and 88% had one or more serologic markers of HBV infection. In the 5-9 year age group, 80% of the children had one or more markers of HBV, and in the 10-19 year age group, the prevalence was 96.4%, indicating that most transmission of HBV in the Tongans studied occurs in the young. Of the pregnant women studied, 15% were positive for HBsAg, and 57% of those positive for HBsAg were also positive for HBeAg. Evidence of delta virus infection was not found in any of 82 HBsAg positive sera tested. Surveillance data suggested that significant serious sequelae to HBV infection (cirrhosis and primary hepatocellular carcinoma) also occur in Tonga. Immunization of infants and children is the most effective strategy for reducing or eliminating HBV infection and its sequelae in developing countries like Tonga.