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World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Mar 14;15(10):1237-41.

Clinical significance of "anti-HBc alone" in human immunodeficiency virus-positive patients.

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  • 1Infectious Diseases Unit, Internal Medicine Department, Xeral-Cíes University Hospital, 36204 Vigo, Spain.



To determine the prevalence and clinical relevance of isolated antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen as the only marker of infection ("anti-HBc alone") among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type-1 infected patients. Occult hepatitis B infection frequency was also evaluated.


Three hundred and forty eight histories from 2388 HIV-positive patients were randomly reviewed. Patients with serological markers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection were classified into three groups: past hepatitis, "anti-HBc alone" and chronic hepatitis. Determination of DNA from HBV, and RNA and genotype from hepatitis C virus (HCV) were performed on "anti-HBc alone" patients.


One hundred and eighty seven (53.7%) HIV-positive patients had markers of HBV infection: 118 past infection (63.1%), 14 chronic hepatitis (7.5%) and 55 "anti-HBc alone" (29.4%). Younger age [2.3-fold higher per every 10 years younger; 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.33-4.00] and antibodies to HCV infection [odds ratio (OR) 2.87; 95% CI 1.10-7.48] were factors independently associated with the "anti-HBc alone" pattern. No differences in liver disease frequency were detected between both groups. Serum levels of anti-HBs were not associated with HCV infection (nor viral replication or HCV genotype), or with HIV replication or CD4 level. No "anti-HBc alone" patient tested positive for HBV DNA.


"Anti-HBc alone" prevalence in HIV-positive patients was similar to previously reported data and was associated with a younger age and with antibodies to HCV infection. In clinical practice, HBV DNA determination should be performed only in those patients with clinical or analytical signs of liver injury.

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