Unsafe Sexual Practice Prior to Incarceration, a High-Risk Factor of HBV and HIV Infection Among Prisoners In Blantyre, Malawi

Author: Isaac Shawa Shakira Chimberenga Anastansia Mgawa Grace James Enock Jumbe Mulinda Nyirenda

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2022

Hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV/HCV) are the major causes of liver diseases. Both HBV and HCV are
primarily transmitted through contact with infected blood, and body fluids. Low and middle-income
countries have a disproportionately high rate of chronic HBV and HCV especially in HIV infected
population. Prison settings are associated with substantial risk of HBV, HCV, and HIV acquisition and
could be a significant driver of blood-bourne viruses among prisoners during detention and after
220 participants [86.4% males (n=190/220), 13.6% females (n=30/220) were enrolled at Chichiri
prison. Serum samples were prepared and analyzed utilizing HBV, and HCV rapid assays. All positive
samples were run on sandwich enzyme immunoassay (EIA).
The HBV prevalence was estimated at 8.6% among prisoners; whereas HCV was not detected among
sampled participants (0%). The HIV prevalence rate was 21%, and HBV/HIV co-infection prevalence
was at 11%. The majority (79.1%) of prisoners were incarcerated between 2017 and 2020. HBV/HIV
co-infection was observed in 11% of the tested inmates.
This study confirms high prevalence of HBV among prisoners. The findings of this study suggest that
intra-prison viral hepatitis transmission was very minimal, possibly due to criminalisation of high-risk
practices for exposure to hepatitis viruses. Sexual transmission prior to incarceration was the
highest risk factor for viral hepatitis.
Disclosure of interest
None to declare.

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