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Eur J Epidemiol. 1997 Apr;13(3):275-80.

Prevalence of hepatitis A, B and C in the Flemish population.

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University of Antwerp, Centre for the Evaluation of Vaccination, WHO Collaborating Centre, Belgium.


Viral hepatitis is a serious health problem throughout the world. No recent prevalence data on hepatitis A, B and C were available for the population in Flanders, Belgium. For this reason, a sero-epidemiological study was undertaken in 1993-1994 in a sample of the general population. The purpose of this study was to obtain a clear picture of the prevalence of hepatitis A, B and C. Between April 1993 and February 1994, 4,058 blood samples were drawn and collected in 10 hospitals in Flanders. The study group was representative for the Flemish population. For hepatitis A a seroprevalence of 55.1% was found. In the non-Belgian residents the HAV prevalence was significantly higher than in Belgians (62% versus 52%; chi2 = 8.05; p = 0.005). For hepatitis B. 9.9% of the study group showed serological evidence of hepatitis B markers: 6.9% of the participants was positive for anti-HBs/anti-HBc, 0.7% appeared to be HBsAg positive and 3.5% was solely anti-HBs positive. The prevalence of HBV markers in Belgians was 6.9%, significantly lower compared to the 13.4% among non-Belgians (chi 2 = 14.05; p = 0.00018). 4055 serum samples were analysed for hepatitis C serology by second generation anti-HCV tests. Anti-HCV was detected in 0.87% of the serum samples. No statistically significant difference was found in HCV prevalnece between Belgians and non-Belgians. Results of this study should help policy makers in their decisions on the most appropriate hepatitis A and B vaccination strategy and on the most effective prevention strategy for hepatitis C.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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