Hepatitis A virus in West Africa: Is an epidemiological transition beginning?

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Background: Studies of hepatitis A virus (HAV) seroprevalence in sub-Saharan Africa have generally found very high anti-HAV IgG seroprevalence rates, but economic development and improved drinking water access may be contributing to decreasing incidence.

Materials and Methods: This review evaluates all 19 articles that have been published on HAV epidemiology in West Africa.

Results: Nearly all studies conducted before 1990 found that the majority of preschool-aged children had already developed immunity due to prior infection. However, several recent studies have observed that the age at midpoint of population immunity in some urban populations has shifted to school-aged children.

Conclusion: There is preliminary evidence that some West-African countries are beginning the transition towards lower hepatitis A endemicity levels. Additional studies of child seroprevalence rates in diverse parts of West Africa are required in order to clarify the extent to which an early transition may be occurring.

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Copyright © 2014, Nigerian Medical Journal.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4103/0300-1652.137185