This study was carried out between October, 2010 and February, 2011 to determine the prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) among 1,000 children and adolescents in Ado-Ekiti and Ido-Ekiti, Ekiti State, Nigeria. Serum samples were collected from the subjects and screened for antibodies to HBsAg, using hepatitis B kits with double sandwich antibody principles. Also, standardized questionnaire was used to collect data from the subjects. The results were recorded as positive or negative to HBsAg and were subjected to statistical analysis using a statistical package, SPSS windows version 17 and a p value of less than 0.05 was considered significant. Out of the 1,000 subjects enrolled in this study, 529 (52.9%) were males and 471 (47.1%) were females, aged between 9 and 20 years. HBsAg was detected in 115 (11.5%) subjects comprising 74 (14.0%) males and 41(8.7%) females. Prevalence rate was highest in age range 13 to 16 years (50.4%) and was lowest in age range 9 to 12 years (13.0%). Out of the 65 subjects who had previous history of blood transfusion, 7 (6.1%) were seropositive. A total of 21 (18.3%) subjects out of the 201 subjects recorded as having shared sharp instruments and personal materials were positive for HBsAg. Also, 26 (22.6%) out of the 71 subjects who have had sexual intercourse were seropositive. The high risk behaviors associated with Hepatitis B virus (HBV) transmission in this population were; sharing of sharp instruments or personal materials (18.3%) and sexual contact (22.6%). There was no significant difference (P < 0.05) between the age, gender and location of the subjects and the prevalence of HBV. It was observed in this study that 115 (11.5%) of adolescents studied in Ado-and Ido-Ekiti harbor HBV and are ignorant of the disease caused by this virus. Mass screening, immunization against the virus and public health education to enlighten the public of the virus, and the possible routes of infection are recommended to reduce the spread of the virus. This study may provide invaluable base line information in controlling the spread of HBV infection in the study location and beyond.
Key words: Hepatitis B surface antigen, children and adolescents, sero-prevalence.
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