Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Print version ISSN 0074-0276
VITRAL, Claudia Lamarca et al. Declining prevalence of hepatitis A virus antibodies among children from low socioeconomic groups reinforces the need for the implementation of hepatitis A vaccination in Brazil. Mem. Inst. Oswaldo Cruz [online]. 2012, vol.107, n.5, pp. 652-658. ISSN 0074-0276. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0074-02762012000500012.
Age-related seroprevalence studies that have been conducted in Brazil have indicated a transition from a high to a medium endemicity of hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection in the population. However, most of these studies have focused on urban populations that experience lower incidence rates of HAV infection. In the current study, the prevalence of anti-HAV antibodies was investigated in children with a low socioeconomic status (SES) that live on the periphery of three capital cities in Brazil. A total of 1,162 dried blood spot samples were collected from individuals whose ages ranged from one-18 years and tested for anti-HAV antibodies. A large number of children under five years old (74.1-90%) were identified to be susceptible to HAV infection. The anti-HAV antibody prevalence reached ≥ 50% among those that were 10-14 years of age or older. The anti-HAV prevalence rates observed were characteristics of regions with intermediate level of hepatitis A endemicity. These data indicated that a large proportion of children with a low SES that live at the periphery of urban cities might be at risk of contracting an HAV infection. The hepatitis A vaccine that is currently offered in Brazil is only available for high-risk groups or at private clinics and is unaffordable for individuals with a lower SES. The results from this study suggest that the hepatitis A vaccine should be included in the Brazilian National Program for Immunisation.
Keywords : hepatitis A; epidemiology; Brazil; prevalence; hepatitis A vaccines.