Hepatitis B virus infection among men who have sex with men and transgender women living with or at risk for HIV: A cross sectional study in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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Background: Despite the development of a safe and efficacious hepatitis B vaccine in 1982, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a public health burden in sub-Saharan Africa. Due to shared risk factors for virus acquisition, men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender women (TGW) living with HIV are at increased risk of HBV. We estimated the prevalence of HBV and associated factors for MSM and TGW living with or without HIV in Nigeria. Methods: Since March 2013, TRUST/RV368 has recruited MSM and TGW in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria using respondent driven sampling. Participants with HIV diagnosis, enrollment as of June 2015, and available plasma were selected for a cross-sectional study and retrospectively tested for hepatitis B surface antigen and HBV DNA. Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for factors associated with prevalent HBV infection. Results: A total of 717 MSM and TGW had a median age of 25 years (interquartile range [IQR]: 21–27), 5% self-reported HBV vaccination, 61% were living with HIV, 10% had prevalent HBV infection and 6% were HIV-HBV co-infected. HIV mono-infected as compared to HIV-HBV co-infected had a higher median CD4 T cell count [425 (IQR: 284–541) vs. 345 (IQR: 164–363) cells/mm3, p = 0.03] and a lower median HIV RNA viral load [4.2 (IQR: 2.3–4.9) vs. 4.7 (IQR: 3.9–5.4) log10copies/mL, p < 0.01]. The only factor independently associated with HBV was self-report of condomless sex at last anal intercourse (OR: 2.2, 95% CI: 1.3, 3.6). HIV infection was not independently associated with HBV (OR: 1.0, 95% CI: 0.7–1.6). Conclusion: HBV prevalence was moderately high but did not differ by HIV in this cohort of MSM and TGW. Recent condomless sex was associated with elevated HBV risk, reinforcing the need to increase communication and education on condom use among key populations in Nigeria. Evaluating use of concurrent HIV antiretroviral therapy with anti-HBV activity may confirm the attenuated HBV prevalence for those living with HIV.