Occult hepatitis B infections among blood donors in Lao PDR

P. Jutavijittum, I. E. Andernach, A. Yousukh, B. Samountry, K. Samountry, T. Thammavong, J. Keokhamphue, K. Toriyama, C. P. Muller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objectives: In Lao People's Democratic Republic, hepatitis B virus is highly endemic. However, blood donations are only screened for HBsAg, leaving a risk of transmission by HBsAg-negative occult infected donors. Here, we characterized first-time blood donors to assess prevalence of hepatitis B virus infections and occult infected donors. Materials and Methods: Sera were screened for HBsAg, HBeAg and anti-HBs, anti-HBc and anti-HBe antibodies. Occult HBV infections (OBIs) were assessed in HBsAg-negative sera by PCR, and sera of HBsAg positive and occult infected donors were phylogenetically characterized. Results: 9·6% of the donors were HBsAg positive, and 45.5% were positive for at least one of the hepatitis B virus serum markers. More than 40% HBsAg carriers were HBeAg positive, with HBeAg seroconversion occurring around 30 years of age. Furthermore, 10·9% of HBsAg-negative, anti-HBc and/or anti-HBs-positive donors were occult infected with hepatitis B virus. Thus, at least 3·9% of blood donations would potentially be unsafe, but hepatitis B virus DNA copy numbers greatly varied between donors. Conclusion: In Lao People's Democratic Republic, a sizable proportion of HBsAg-negative and anti-HBc antibody-positive blood donations are potentially DNA positive and infective for hepatitis B.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalVox Sanguinis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Chronic hepatitis B infection
  • Hepatitis B virus
  • Occult hepatitis B infection
  • Seroclearance
  • Serological markers


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