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Isr J Med Sci. 1993 Jun-Jul;29(6-7):390-2.

Serological markers for hepatitis B and treponemal infection among HIV carriers from Ethiopia.

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  • 1Institute for Infectious Diseases, Soroka Medical Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva, Israel.


A group of 52 HIV carriers among immigrants who arrived in Israel from Ethiopia in Operation Solomon, 1991, is described. A control group was randomly chosen from the same population. HBV serology and treponemal antibodies were obtained from both groups. The frequency of HBV markers was similar in both groups (70% among the HIV carriers and 78.8% in the controls). HBsAg was more frequently found among HIV carriers (20%) than in the control group (8.6%). Treponemal antibodies were common among HIV carriers (31%), and infrequent in the controls (3%). These data indicate that HIV infection in this community is linked to treponemal infection and that these carriers handle HBV less efficiently then HIV-negative subjects.


In Jerusalem and the Negev, physicians examined and took blood samples from recent Jewish immigrants older than 10 years who came to Israel from Ethiopia during Operation Solomon in 1991. The physicians and other colleagues compared data on the 52 people who were HIV positive with 139 who were HIV negative to examine HIV's relationships with treponemal infection and hepatitis B infection. The 2 groups were essentially the same age (37 years for cases and 35.5 years for controls). No significant difference in the prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) markers existed between the 2 groups (70% for HIV-positive migrants and 78.8% for HIV-negative migrants). This confirmed other research that HBV is transmitted vertically in developing countries. Yet, HIV-positive migrants were more likely to have markers for hepatitis B surface antigen than HIV-negative migrants (20% vs. 8.6%; p = .018). The HIV-positive migrants had a higher prevalence of treponemal markers than did HIV-negative migrants (31% vs. 3%), indicating that treponemal disease increased their risk of HIV infection. The earlier group of Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia during 1984-1985 (Operation Moses) also had a high prevalence of treponemal antibodies but no one had HIV infection. These immigrants walked through a rural area to a refugee camp in Sudan from which they were taken to Israel by air. The newer immigrants rode buses to Addis Ababa and waited 1 year before they immigrated to Israel. The results of this study suggests that the new immigrants (an ethnic homogenous group just like their earlier counterparts) became infected with HIV during the short period in Addis Ababa. Israeli physicians have designed a study to follow the HIV-positive immigrants to determine whether the environment in Africa is responsible for the different clinical picture of AIDS.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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