The prevalence of antibodies to Hepatitis B core antigen among blood donors in a tertiary institution in Nairobi County, Kenya

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Festus Mulakoli
Michael Gichure


Background: Infections linked to blood transfusion or tissue transplants prove to be a major challenge globally because of the serological window period (WP) and a latent stage exhibited by most viral infections. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of anti-HBc antibodies in HBsAg negative donors at Aga Khan University Hospital Nairobi.
Methods: The current project was a cross-sectional study in which 76 donor samples that tested negative for HBsAg marker were reevaluated with an anti-HBc ELIA kit (Elecsys reagent kit) following Cobas 601(Roche, Stuttgart, Germany) machine operation manual. Anti-HBc positive samples were confirmed for positivity using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Donor demography and risk factors such as age; gender, marital status, employment status, and donor type were reviewed and documented from the archived questionnaires.
Results: In total, 76 archived samples were screened during the period of the study. The study population had an average age of 32 ± 8 years which male donors dominating at n=61 (79.2 %) and female n=16 (20.8 %). The prevalence rate of anti-HBc Total was 13 % during the period of the study. On further analysis of the 10 anti-HBc positive samples with PCR, there was no detectable HBV-DNA. The majority (63.6 %) of Anti-HBc positive cases were first-time donors and blood donors aged between 25–45 years being the majority.
Conclusions: The introduction of anti-HBc as a routine screening tool is recommended to all potential blood donors and even in other medical procedures such as dialysis. These support the need for a duo approach when screening potential donors to rule out occult infection.

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