Open Access

Hepatitis B virus in Pakistan: A systematic review of prevalence, risk factors, awareness status and genotypes

  • Muhammad Ali1,
  • Muhammad Idrees1Email author,
  • Liaqat Ali1,
  • Abrar Hussain1,
  • Irshad Ur Rehman1,
  • Sana Saleem1,
  • Samia Afzal1 and
  • Sadia Butt1
Virology Journal20118:102

https://doi.org/10.1186/1743-422X-8-102

Received: 2 February 2011

Accepted: 6 March 2011

Published: 6 March 2011

Abstract

In Pakistan, there are estimated 7-9 million carriers of hepatitis B virus (HBV) with a carrier rate of 3-5%. This article reviews the available literature about the prevalence, risk factors, awareness status and genotypes of the HBV in Pakistan by using key words; HBV prevalence, risk factors, awareness status and genotypes in Pakistani population in PubMed, PakMediNet, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Google Scholar. One hundred and six different studies published from 1998 to 2010 were included in this study. Weighted mean and standard deviation were determined for each population group. The percentage of hepatitis B virus infection in general population was 4.3318% ± 1.644%, healthy blood donors (3.93% ± 1.58%), military recruits (4.276% ± 1.646%), healthcare persons (3.25% ± 1.202%), pregnant women (5.872% ± 4.984), prisoners (5.75% ± 0.212%), surgical patients (7.397% ± 2.012%), patients with cirrhosis (28.87% ± 11.90%), patients with HCC (22% ± 2.645%), patients with hepatitis (15.896% ± 14.824%), patients with liver diseases (27.54% ± 6.385%), multiple transfused patients (6.223% ± 2.121%), opthalmic patients (3.89% ± 1.004%) and users of injectable drugs (14.95% ± 10.536%). Genotype D (63.71%) is the most prevalent genotype in Pakistani population. Mass vaccination and awareness programs should be initiated on urgent basis especially in populations with HBV infection rates of more than 5%.

Introduction

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major global health problem [13], especially in Asia, Africa, southern Europe and Latin America [4]. About 2 billion people are infected with HBV worldwide [2, 4, 5], and 400 million among them are suffering from chronic HBV infection [6]. Pakistan is highly endemic with HBV [7] with nine million people infected with HBV [8] and its infection rate is on a steady rise [9]. The reason may be the lack of proper health facilities, poor economical status and less public awareness about the transmission of major communicable diseases including HBV, HCV and HIV [6].

The clinical course and sequel of chronic hepatitis vary among individuals. Infection with HBV leads to a wide spectrum of clinical presentations, ranging from asymptomatic carrier state to acute self-limiting infection or fulminant hepatic failure, chronic hepatitis with progression to cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) [2].

Studies are too limited to give a clear picture of the prevalence of HBV at the National level, especially among otherwise healthy individuals. Most previous studies targeted different small groups of individuals with some clinical indications therefore; these do not accurately reflect the overall prevalence in Pakistan [7, 8]. The present article briefly presents the prevalence, risk factors associated with HBV transmission, awareness status and HBV genotypes prevalent in Pakistani population.

Literature Search and inclusion criteria

Articles were searched in PubMed, PakMediNet, Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and Google Scholar by using keywords; Hepatitis B virus in Pakistan, Prevalence of HBV in Pakistan, HBV in Blood donors, Hepatitis B virus in general population, HBV in Pakistani healthcare workers, HBV in surgical patients, HBV infection in women and children, HBV infection in prisoners, HBV in diseased population in Pakistan, HBV in injection drug users, epidemiology of HBV in Pakistan, HBV genotypes in Pakistan and awareness about HBV in Pakistani population. Two hundreds and twenty nine different studies (articles/repots) were obtained from the literature search, out of which 106 published from 1998 to 2010 were included in the present review. Studies full filling the following criteria were included: 1) Samples were collected from Pakistani individuals. 2) An obvious description of the methods of detection of HBV infection and genotyping. 3) Information about the number of individuals studied and their residing area were reported. 4) Studies reporting risk factors and awareness status in Pakistani population were included to discuss the HBV prevalence in different population groups.

Analysis

Studies showing percent prevalence of HBV infection in different population are shown in table 1, 2, 3 and 4, while table 5 shows the percentage of different genotypes prevalent in Pakistan. The percent prevalence in the different population groups are presented in mean ± standard deviation (with 95% confidence interval).
Table 1

Prevalence of HBV in general population, young recruits and prisoners.

Population type

Region

Methods

Population size

HBV (%)

HBV marker

Reference

General population

Lahore

ELISA

992

8.06%

HBsAg

Nafees et al. [10] 2009

 

Larkana

ICT, ELISA

200

4.8%

HBsAg

Shaikh et al. [11] 2009

 

Lahore

ICT

203

2.46

HBsAg

Tanveer et al. [12] 2008

 

Karachi

ICT, ELISA.

4000

4.5%

HBsAg

Noorali et al. [7] 2008

 

Southern Punjab

ICT/ELISA

1821

5.9%

HBsAg

Mirza et al. [13] 2007

 

Karachi

ICT, ELISA and PCR.

3820

4.5%

HBsAg & DNA

Hakim et al. [8] 2008

 

Islamabad

AxSym HBsAg, CORE& AUSAB MEIA

1300

4%

HBsAg, anti HBs, anti HBc

Alam et al. [6] 2007

 

Central Punjab

ICT, ELISA

2038

4.83%

HBsAg

Alam et al. [14] 2006

 

Rawalpindi

ELISA

665

3%

HBsAg

Farooq et al. [15] 2005

 

Lahore

ICT

757

2.6%

HBsAg

Amin et al. [16] 2004

 

Karachi

ICT, ELISA

200

3%

HBsAg

Qasmi et al. [17] 2000

Recruitments

Rural Areas of Pakistan

ICT, ELISA

3320

4.5%

HBsAg

Azam et al. [18] 2009

 

Interior Sindh

ICT, ELISA

5237

7.39%

HBsAg

Malik et al. [19] 2008

 

Recruits from all over Pakistan

ICT, ELISA

2558

2.8%

HBsAg

Sherif & Tariq, [20] 2006

 

Mardan

ICT, ELISA

15550

3.24%

HBsAg

Mirza et al. [21] 2006

 

All areas of Pakistan

ICT, ELISA

4552

4.2%

HBsAg

Hussain et al. [22]2005

 

All areas of Pakistan

ICT, ELISA

5371

3.53%

HBsAg

Ali et al. [23] 2002

Prisoners

Karachi

ELISA

365

5.9%

HBs Ag

Kazi et al. [24] 2010

 

Bahawalpur

ICT, ELISA

2086

5.6%

HBs Ag

Fayyaz et al.[25] 2006

ELISA: Enzume linked immunosorbant assay; HBsAg: hepatitis B surface antigen; ICT: Immuno-chromatographic Test, MEIA: Microparticle Enzyme Immunoassay, HBsAg: hepatitis B surface antigen

Table 2

Percent prevalence rates of HBV in Healthy Blood donors.

Population type

Region

Methods

Population size

HBV positive (%)

HBV marker

Reference

Healthy Blood Donors

Kurram Agency

ICT

1300

5.07%

HBsAg

Bangash et al. [26] 2009

 

Interior

Sindh

ICT

5345

6.2%

HBsAg

Mujeeb & Pearce, [27] 2008

 

Karachi

ICT

11459

1.71%

HBsAg

Nazar et al. [28] 2008

 

Karachi

ICT

688

4.50%

HBsAg

Azam et al. [29] 2007

 

Northern areas

ICT

8949

3.66%

HBsAg

Alam & Naeem, [30] 2007

 

Karachi

ICT

21,125

3.3%

HBsAg

Mujeeb & Pearce, [31] 2007

 

District Thatta

ICT

310

5.81%

HBsAg

Ishaq et al. [32] 2007

 

Southern Punjab

ICT, ELISA

27938

2.69%

HBsAg

Khan et al. [33] 2006

 

Lahore

ICT

18216

3.36%

HBsAg

Sirhindi et al. [34] 2005

 

Karachi

ELISA

351309

2.0%

HBsAg

Akhtar et al. [35] 2005

 

Peshawar/

KPK

MEIA

4000

1.9%

HBsAg

Ahmad et al. [36] 2004

 

Rawalpindi

ICT

580

5.86%

HBsAg

Mumtaz et al. [37] 2002

 

Northern Pakistan

ELISA

103858

3.3%

HBsAg

Khattak et al. [38] 2002

 

Bahawalpur

LAT, ICT

345

5.64%

HBsAg

Fayyaz et al. [39] 2002

LAT: Latex agglutination test

Table 3

Percent prevalence rates of HBV infection in Healthcare workers, pregnant women and pediatric population.

Population type

Region

Methods

Population size

HBV positive (%)

HBV marker

Reference

Health Care Personals

Abbottabad

ELISA

125

2.4%

HBsAg

Sarwar et al. [41] 2008

 

Muzaffarabad

RPHA, ELISA

199

4.1%

HBsAg

Naz et al. [42] 2002

Pregnant women

Karachi

ICT

2592

0.34%

HBsAg

Sheikh, [43] 2009

 

Swat

ICT, ELISA

5607

3.98%

HBsAg

Khattak et al. [44] 2009

 

Karachi

EIA

5902

4.6%

HBsAg

Sami et al. [45] 2009

 

Lahore

ICT, ELISA

2439

2.2%

HBsAg

Batool et al. [46] 2008

 

Bahawalpur

ICT, ELISA

300

12.3%

HBsAG, HBeAG, HBcAB, HBsAB,

Ahmad et al. [47] 2007

 

Karachi

ICT, ELISA

25,482

1.57%

HBs Ag

Ali & Memon, [48] 2007

 

Hyderabad

ICT, ELISA

103

12.6%

HBsAg

Yousfani et al. [49] 2006

 

Rahim Yar Khan

ELISA

450

12.0%

HBsAg

Hakeem et al. [50] 2006

 

Karachi

ICT, ELISA

245

3.26%

HBsAg

Mehnaz et al. [51] 2002

Children

Karachi

ELISA

3533

1.8%

HBsAg

Jafri et al. [52] 2006

 

Lahore

RPHA, ELISA

392

2.04%.

HBsAg

Khan et al. [53] 1998

EIA: Enzyme Immunoassay, RPHA: Reverse Passive Hemagglutination Technique

Table 4

Percent prevalence of HBV infection in patients of different diseases in Pakistan.

Population type

Region

Methods

Population size

HBV positive(%)

HBV marker

Reference

Surgical patients

Karachi

EIA

496

5.0%

HBsAg

Moosa et al. [57] 2009

 

Jacobabad Sindh

ICT

150

9.33%

HBsAg

Daudpota & Soomro, [58] 2008

 

Karachi

ELISA

387

6.5%

HBsAg

Masood et al. [59] 2005

 

Karachi

Latex method, ELISA

411

8.76%

HBsAg

Shirazi et al. [60] 2004

Patients with cirrhosis

Saidu Sharif, Swat

ELISA

110

21.81%

HBsAg

Khan et al. [62] 2009

 

Dera Ismail Khan

ICT

60

46.67%

HBsAg

Mashud et al. [63] 2004

 

Lahore

ICT, ELISA

94

23%

HBsAg, anti-HBcIgG, anti-HBs, and HBeAg

Khan et al. [64] 2002

 

Lahore

ELISA

50

24%

HBsAg

Hussain et al. [65] 1998

Patients with Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)

Hyderabad

ELISA

200

21.0%

HBsAg

Ansari et al. [66] 2009

 

Rawalpindi

ICT, ELISA

44

25%

anti-HBsAg, anti-HBcAb antiHBeAb

Mumtaz et al. [67] 2001

 

Lahore

ELISA

30

20%

HBsAg

Kausar et al. [68] 1998

Patients with hepatitis

Rawalpindi

ICT

264

9.8%

HBsAg

Mumtaz & Aftab [69] 2005

 

Hyderabad/Jamshoro

ELISA

100

41%

anti-HBs

anti-HBc

Almani et al. [70] 2002

 

Islamabad

ELISA

2574

15%

HBsAg

Tanwani & Ahmad [71] 2000

 

Karachi

MEIA-Abbott

1225

2%

HBsAg

Mahmood [72] 2000

 

Rawalpindi

RPHA or ELISA

4315

11.68%

HBsAg

Hussain &

Ahmed [73] 1998

Patients of Liver disease

Karachi

ICT, ELISA, PCR

5193

32.6%

HBsAg

Ahmed et al. [74] 2010

 

Peshawar

ICT, ELISA and PCR.

181

18.23%

HBs Ag or DNA

Khan [75] 2006

 

Faisalabad

ELISA

100

29%

HBsAg

Bilal et al. [76] 2006

 

Hazara Division

ICT

893

30.35%

HBsAg

Khan and Rizvi [77] 2003

MTP (Thalassemic & Hemophiliac Children)

Islamabad

ICT, ELISA

251

3.9%

HBsAg

Burki et al. [79] 2009

 

Peshawar

ELISA

250

8.4%

HBsAg

Shah et al. [80] 2005

 

Peshawar

ELISA

80

7.591

HBsAg

Mohammad et al. [81] 2003

 

Peshawar

ELISA

40

5%

HBsAg

Hussain et al. [82] 2003

Ophthalmic Patients

Jamshoro/Hyderabad

ICT

931

4.6%

HBsAg

Junejo et al. [88] 2009

 

Dera Ismail Khan

ICT, ELISA

1130

3.18%

HBsAg

Ahmad et al. [89] 2006

IDU

Peshawar

ELISA

250

22.4%

HBsAg

Alam et al. [86] 2007b

 

Karachi

ELISA

161

7.5%

HBsAg

Altaf et al. [87] 2007

MTP: Multi-transfused Population, IDU: Injecting drug Users

Table 5

Summaries of the studies conducted on prevalence of HBV genotypes in Pakistan.

Authors

Region

Patients (n)

Genotype A

Genotype B

Genotype C

Genotype D

Genotype E

Genotype F

Untypable

Mixed

Awan et al .[96]2010

All areas of Pakistan

300

43 (14.33%)

54 (18%)

83 (27.66%)

39 (13%)

2 (0.66%)

4 (1.33%)

31 (10.33%)

44 (14.66%)

Ahmed et al .[97]2009

Punjab and Sindh

236

2 (0.85%)

-

14

(5.93%)

220 (93.22%)

-

-

-

-

Baig et al .[98]2009

Karachi

315

65 (20%)

-

-

219 (70%)

-

-

-

31 (10%)

Noorali et al .[7]2008

Karachi

180

-

-

-

150 (83.33%)

-

-

-

30 (16.66%)

Hakim et al .[8]2008

Karachi

180

-

-

-

151 (83.89%)

-

-

-

29 (16.11%)

*Alam et al .[99]2007

Patients from All four Provinces

110

5 (4.55)

27(24.54%)

-

66 (60%)

-

-

9 (8.18%)

3 (2.73%)

Baig et al .[100]2007

Karachi

295

60 (20.34%)

-

-

208 (70.51%)

-

-

-

27 (9.15%)

Alam et al .[86]2007

KPK

56

15 (8.92%)

-

-

35 (62.5%)

-

-

-

16 (28.57%)

Abbas et al .[101]2006

Karachi

109

-

-

-

109 (100%)

-

-

-

-

Idrees et al .[1]2004

Patients from All four Provinces

112

24 (21.42%)

20 (17.86%)

46 (41.07%)

9 (8.03%)

-

-

5 (4.46%)

8 (7.14%)

Total

 

1893

190 (10.03%)

101 (5.335%)

143 (7.55%)

1206 (63.71%)

2 (0.105%)

4 (0.21%)

45 (2.377%)

188 (9.931%)

KPK: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province

*The percentage values are different in the original manuscript as the authors considered the untypable samples as negative for genotype.

Formula used for determination of mean prevalence in each population group
μ = ( Σ  x i ) / N
Formula used for determination of standard deviation (SD) in each population group
σ = 1 N i = 1 N ( x i μ ) 2 .

Where "x" is the percent HBV prevalence reported in each study and "N" is the total number of studies in the population groups.

HBV prevalence in various population groups

General population (healthy population)

Eleven different studies reported the percent prevalence rates of hepatitis B virus of in general population as 4.3318% ± 1.644% (2.46%-8.06%) [68, 1017], while six different studies involving healthy recruits showed the prevalence rate of 4.276% ± 1.646%. [1823]. HBV prevalence of 5.75% ± 0.212% was observed in prisoners [24, 25]. Fourteen different studies showed the prevalence rate of 3.93% ± 1.58% in healthy blood donors in Pakistan [2639]. HBV prevalence of 9.0% has been reported in professional blood donors [40]. Two different studies showed the prevalence of HBV in health care workers as 3.25% ± 1.202% [41, 42]. Nine studies showed the HBV prevalence of 5.872% ± 4.984% in pregnant women [4351], while two different studies demonstrated 1.92% ± 0.169% prevalence in children [52, 53]. A very high frequency of ≥12% HBV infection in pregnant females has been reported in Bahawalpur, Hyderabad and Rahim Yar Khan regions [47, 49, 50]. Up to 21% of the children born of HBV infected females were infected [47], while Kazmi et al. [54] showed a high prevalence of 90% in children born of HBV positive mothers. Quddus et al. [55] showed HBV prevalence of 8.3% in Afghan refuges residing in Pakistan. Anwar et al. [56] showed a high prevalence rate of HBV that was 11.65% in female prostitutes in Lahore, Pakistan. Frequency of viral hepatitis in blood donors is higher in Bahawalpur as compared to rest of the world [33].

These studies show that Southern Punjab, Interior Sindh, District Tatta, Kurrum agency and some areas of Lahore have very high HBV prevalence of >5%, hence mass vaccination and awareness programs in these areas on urgent basis is suggested.

Surgical patients

Four different studies showed 7.397% ± 2.012% HBV prevalence rates in patients undergoing surgery [5760]. The lack of routine serological screening in Pakistani hospitals prior to surgery is one of the factors responsible for increased disease transmission [59]. It is recommended that every case undergoing surgery should be screened for hepatitis B and C virus infections [61].

Patients with hepatitis, liver diseases, HCC and cirrhosis

Four different studies showed the percent HBV prevalence of 28.87% ± 11.90% in patients with cirrhosis [6265] while 22% ± 2.645% HBV prevalence was shown by three different studies in patients with HCC [6668]. Five studies in patients with hepatitis showed the percent prevalence of 15.896% ± 14.824% [6973] while four different studies in patients with different liver diseases showed the prevalence of HBV as 27.54% ± 6.385% [7477].

Muti-tranfused population (thalassemic and hemophilic patients)

Thalassemic and hemophilic patients require life-long blood transfusions, so it is necessary to obtain screened blood from a reputable source, because the multitransfused population is more prone to blood-borne pathogens [78]. Four different reports showed percent HBV infection of 6.223% ± 2.121% in multi-tranfused population [7982].

Intravenous drug users (IDU)

Pakistan is estimated to have 4 to 4.8 million drug users with 180,000 IDUs [83]. Strathdee et al. [84] observed significant increase in needle sharing in IDUs since 2001. Among them Afghan refugees have higher levels of needle sharing as compared to the local IDUs [85]. Two different reports showed a very high HBV prevalence of 14.95% ± 10.536% in injection drug users [86, 87].

Patients with other diseases

Two different reports show the prevalence of HBV in ophthalmic patients to be 3.89% ± 1.004% [88, 89], percent prevalence of HBV was 12.4% in patients on hemodialysis [90], 26% in psychiatric patients [91], 10.2% in patients advised for liver function tests [92], 1.5% in patients with dermatoses caused by lichen planus[93] and 2.02% in orthopedics patients [94]. High prevalence among psychiatric patients could be due to razor sharing, facial and armpit shaving from barbers and carelessness during injuries.

Genotypes

Hepatitis B virus exists in eight different genotypes (A-H) and its prevalence differs with differs by geography and ethnicity [95]. Ten different studies (Table 5) conducted at different regions of Pakistan showed that the most prevalent HBV genotype in Pakistan is genotype D with overall prevalence rate of 63.71% followed by genotype A (10.036%), genotype C (7.55%) and genotype B (5.335%) while untypable and mixed genotypes were 2.377% and 9.931%, respectively [1, 7, 8, 87, 97102]. The most detailed study recently conducted by Awan et al. [96] showed that the most emerging genotype in Pakistani population is genotype C with the prevalence rate of 27.66%, which is a bad news as it is more common in cirrhotic patients and is known to be associated with more severe liver diseases. Moreover, Previous studies also shows that genotype D have more severe disease, less responsive to interferon therapy as compared to genotype A and B and have higher HBV DNA levels. This genotype also has specific viral sequence patterns that may predict long-term response to lamivudine treatment [101]. However, further studies are needed to characterize prevalence of different genotypes, their relative severity and treatment response rates in Pakistani population.

Risk factors associated with HBV infection

History of dialysis for more than 2 years is a risk factor for dialysis patients [90]. Major risk factors for mother to infant transmission include increasing maternal age, number of pregnancies, repeated injections and addiction [51]; major risk factors in surgical patients include re-use of contaminated syringes, contaminated surgical instruments and blood products [59]; risk factors in pregnant women (antenatal) include ear and nose prick, history of jaundice among them or with their partner [49], history of blood transfusions, history of injections [46, 49], tooth extraction [46]; in prisoners significant risk factors were intravenous drug abuse [24, 25], rural origin and shaved by barber [25]; in orthopedic patients common risk factors are previous history of surgery or blood transfusion [94]. Major risk factors for health care workers are dental procedures, needle prick and surgical procedures [41]; most important risk factors for HBV infection in young recruits were sharing of razors, history of intravenous injections, jaundice in the subject and jaundice in family [22]; in children key risk factors were injection in the past, surgical and dental procedures, blood transfusion, accidental cuts at barber shops and umbilical cord cut through unsterilized instruments at home [102]; in thalassaemic children there is a definite risk factor of repeated blood transfusion [79], while main risk factors among the obstetrical and gynecological population were unsafe surgery, injections and inadequately screened blood transfusions [45]. Qureshi et al. [103] compared male patients suffering from chronic hepatitis with healthy people as control and found very strong relationship of the HBV infection with history of dental treatment, surgery and history of taking injections. It is established fact that HBsAg does not cross the placental barrier however; the infection in children/newborns may occur at the time of birth or soon after birth. The infants of HBV positive mothers must be vaccinated soon after birth and HBIG immediately within 24 hours of birth [54]. Relatively low prevalence in the female prostitutes (high risk group) reflects the effect of legal, social and religious constraints in Pakistani society [56]. Many of the Afghan refuges (most of them are children) are rag pickers who collect used syringes and needles dumped outside the hospitals and hence are one of the most vulnerable groups to viral hepatitis in Pakistan [104]. Most of these factors are easily preventable and need awareness in general population and the healthcare workers.

Preventive strategies for HBV infection include healthy blood transfusion services along with safe sex [34], vaccination against HBV [40, 103], shaving by barbers needs to be discouraged [103] and better training of healthcare workers [105]. Paid blood donation should be prohibited [85]. All patients needing surgery should be screened for viral hepatitis and there should be separate operation theatres facilities for these patients [94]. In addition reuse of razors in many barber shops that may spread hepatitis in a substantial number of individuals [106] and must be discouraged. Importantly, the most common risk factors and modes of HBV transmission in this country differ in importance in various community groups [23].

In Turkish population, HLA-A24 and Cw1 has been associated with low risk for HBV-related chronic liver disease and HLA- B13, B8, DR7, DR13 and DQ3 were found associated with high risk for chronic HBV infection [107]. However, there is no study that describes cellular or molecular mechanism of HBV infection in Pakistani population.

Awareness about HBV in Pakistani population

Nasim et al. [108] conducted a questioner bases survey in Karachi to assess knowledge about viral hepatitis among college girls and showed that 57% of them do not have information about transmission of hepatitis B virus. In another survey [109] at obstetric and gynecology clinic at Hyderabad showed that most of the women (67.76%) know that HBV is a viral disease, 75.20% responded that it affect liver, 33.88% believed that it could be transmitted by infected blood transfusion, 17.35% believed that it could be transmitted from mother to child, 19.0% mentioned sexual intercourse responsible for HBV infection, while 40.49% and 38.0% mentioned contaminated needles and un-sterilised instruments as a source of HBV infection, respectively. Mengal et al. [110] surveyed nursing students at nursing school, Bolan medical complex hospital, Quetta and reported that only 37.2% of them were completely vaccinated and 25.0% had not been vaccinated for HBV. Chaudhry et al. [111] repoted that 97.4% of the barbers at Islamabad use new blade for every customer but only 38% of them has knowledge about routes of infection of HBV and HCV. In another study, Waheed et al. [112] reported that 39.6% of the barbers at Rawalpindi and Islamabad knew that Hepatitis B and hepatitis C were viral diseases, 90.7% thought that hepatitis could spread by blade sharing, 26.6% knew that it can lead to cancer and 47.8% knew that a vaccine for HBV was available. Ali et al. [113] reported that 78.8% of the rural population of Faisalabad was unaware of viral hepatitis. In another study, Asif et al. [114] reported that only 17.6% of the rural population of Nowshera was aware of the fact that Hepatitis B and C are transmitted by a virus. Talpur et al. [115] stated that there is significant lack of knowledge and poor attitude towards HBV and HCV in surgical patients at Nawabshah area. We suggest aggressive public awareness programs especially in rural areas and people at high risk to decrease the burden of HBV infection in Pakistan.

Conclusions

This article reviews prevalence of HBV in different areas and population groups in Pakistan, along with awareness status, risk factors and genotypes in Pakistani population. Prevalence of HBV infection varies with population residing in different regions of Pakistan. The present literature shows that Afghan refuges in Pakistan, IDUs, professional blood donors, health care professionals, prisoners, multiple transfused patients, patients with HCC, psychiatric patients, general population of some specific areas like Southern Punjab, Interior Sindh, District Tatta, Kurrum agency, Baltistan and some areas of Lahore have very high HBV prevalence of more than 5%, and there is urgent need of mass vaccination and awareness programs. Further studies are needed to characterize HBV prevalent in Pakistan at molecular level. Moreover, both host and viral factors associated with molecular and cellular mechanism of HBV infection in Pakistani population needs to be explored.

Declarations

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Division of Molecular Virology, National Centre of Excellence in Molecular Biology, University of the Punjab

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