INTRODUCTION: Hepatitis B is common in Brazil, although there are regional differences regarding the degree of endemicity, the most frequent forms of transmission and the presence of different evolutive stages of chronic disease. The present study aimed to determine the clinical, demographic and epidemiological characteristics of patients chronically infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV) residing in the Ribeirão Preto region, southeastern Brazil. METHODS: A total of 529 medical records of individuals with HBV monoinfection were reviewed. RESULTS: More than 60% of the subjects were males, with a mean age of 38 years-old. The HBeAg-negative serological pattern was verified in 84.4% of the patients, among whom the risk of vertical/intrafamily transmission was 43.2% (p = 0.02). The consumption of alcohol in amounts exceeding 20g a day was observed in 21.3% of the subjects and was more frequent among men (33%) (p < 0.001). Among patients with cirrhosis, 54.1% were alcohol abusers (p = 0.04), all of them males. The presence of cirrhosis was more frequent in the HBeAg-positive group (24.4%) than in the HBeAg-negative group (10.2%) (p < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: High proportions of HBV-infected subjects with an HBeAg-negative pattern were observed, with a higher risk of vertical/intrafamily transmission. Alcohol abuse was associated with male subjects and with cirrhosis of the liver in this group. A tendency toward an increase in the number of HBeAg-negative cases was observed over time.
Hepatitis B; Epidemiology; Transmission; Hepatitis B E antigens