In Zambia, it is estimated that 6-8% of the population may have chronic Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection. Routine Hepatitis B immunization for infants protects the next generation, and the Zambia National Blood Transfusion Service routinely screens for HBV to prevent transfusion-related cases. However, access to hepatitis screening and treatment is still very limited in the region, and community knowledge about hepatitis is low. Many people are unaware of their HBV infection and present for care with advanced disease.
CIDRZ supports HBV screening in the Government of Zambia’s HIV Prevention, Care and Treatment programme in Lusaka District according to Ministry of Health guidelines.
In January, a group of investigators including Ministry of Health, University Teaching Hospital and CIDRZ authors published the results of their collaborative study evaluating the association between significant liver fibrosis, determined by the now WHO-recommended assessment for use in resource-constrained settings, AST-to-platelet ratio index (APRI), and all-cause mortality among HIV-infected patients prescribed antiretroviral therapy (ART) in Zambia. They concluded that liver fibrosis may be a risk factor for mortality during ART among HIV-infected individuals in Africa and that APRI is an inexpensive and potentially useful test for liver fibrosis in resource-constrained settings. Dr Michael Vinikoor, CIDRZ physician and study lead, welcomes the WHO guidance on the management of HBV in low and middle-income settings, “having the WHO recommend the APRI will help to bring this research finding to policy.”
Read the paper here
Read the 2015 WHO Policy Brief Guidelines for the Prevention, Care and Treatment of Persons with Chronic Hepatitis B Infection here