Prevalence of serum antibodies against bloodborne and sexually transmitted agents in selected groups in Somalia
Somalia has suffered from a civil war during the last 10 years. In this period the use of whole blood has increased at least twofold in Mogadishu, Somalia compared with pre-war. Screening possibilities are limited. Recent data concerning the prevalence of infections with blood-borne and sexually transmitted agents are not available from this country. To investigate the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1/2) and other blood-borne or sexually transmitted agents we tested a total of 256 serum samples collected in the summer of 1995 from blood donors, hospitalized children and adults in Mogadishu. The hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg) carrier rate was 19·1%, 5·6% and 21·3% among blood donors, hospitalized children and hospitalized adults, respectively. However, no children under 2 years of age were HbsAg positive. The overall presence of antibodies against hepatitis C virus (HCV) was 2·4% (6/256). In blood donors this was 0·6% (1/157). In none of the samples tested, antibodies against HIV 1 and 2 or human T-cell lymphotropic viruses (HTLV I and II) were detected. Our results indicate that, during the civil war in Somalia, no evidence of an increase of HIV infections was found. Our findings indicate that preventive measures in Somalia should focus mainly on prevention of HBV-infections. HBV-vaccine could be administered within the framework of the expanded programme on immunization, as none of the children less than 2 years of age were HbsAg positive.(Accepted August 23 1999)
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