Seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus infection and associated factors among healthcare workers in northern Tanzania

Elichilia R. ShaoEmail author, Innocent B. Mboya, Daniel W. Gunda, Flora G. Ruhangisa, Elizabeth M. Temu, Mercy L. Nkwama, Jeremia J. Pyuza, Kajiru G. Kilonzo, Furaha S. Lyamuya and Venance P. Maro
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Hepatitis B virus infection is a global health problem with the highest prevalence in East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of infected people, including healthcare workers are unaware of their status. This study is aimed to determining seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus infection and associated factors among healthcare workers in northern Tanzania.


This cross-sectional study included 442 healthcare workers (HCWs) from a tertiary and teaching hospital in Tanzania before the nationwide hepatitis B vaccination campaign in 2004. Questionnaire- based interviews were used to obtain detailed histories of the following: demographic characteristics; occupation risks such splash and needle stick injuries or other invasive procedure such as intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous injections; history of blood transfusion and surgeries, as well as HCWs’knowledge of HBV. Serological markers of HBV were done using Laborex HBsAg rapid test. Serology was done at zero months and repeated after six months ( HBsAg Piazzale-milano-2, Italy [Accessed on November 2017]). Chi-square (χ2) tests were used to compare proportion of HBV infection by different HCWs characteristics. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors associated with HBV infection.


A total of 450 surveys were sent out, with a 98.2% response rate. Among the 442 HCWs who answered the questionnaire, the prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus infection was 5.7% (25/442). Only 50 (11.3%) of HCWs were aware of the HBV status. During the second HBsAg testing which was done after six months one participant sero-converted hence was excluded. Adjusted for other factors, history of blood transfusion significantly increased the odds of HBV infection (OR = 21.44, 95%CI 6.05, 76.01, p < 0.001) while HBV vaccine uptake was protective against HBV infection (OR = 0.06, 95%CI 0.02, 0.26, p < 0.001). The majority of HCWs with chronic HBV infection had poor to fare knowledge about HBV infection but this was not statistically significant when controlled for confounding.


Prevalence of HBV among health care workers was 5.7% which is similar to national prevalence. Although the response rate to take part in the study was good but knowledge on HBV infection among HCWs was unsatisfactory. History of blood transfusion increased risks while vaccine uptake decreased the risk of HBV infection. This study recommends continues vaccinating HCWs together with continues medical education all over the country. We also recommend documentation of vaccination evidence should be asked before employment of HCWs in order to sensitize more uptakes of vaccinations. Although we didn’t assess the use of personal protective equipment but we encourage HCWs to abide strictly on universal protections against nosocomial infections.