The prevalence of serum antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and cytomegalovirus (CMV) and of hepatitis B virus (HBV) markers was investigated in different population groups, including prostitutes, in Mogadishu, Somalia. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was detected in 37% of pregnant women, 4% of neonates, 22% of educated women, and 20% of prostitutes. No significant difference between the groups was observed for HBV. In contrast to figures reported from South East Asia, the prevalence of hepatitis Be antigen (HBeAg) was 18% in prostitutes and only 3% in all other HBsAg positive subjects. The prevalence of antibodies to HSV (100%) and CMV (90%) was very high, but antibodies against HIV were not detected in any of 471 sera. As the routes of transmission for HBV and HIV infections are considered to be similar, HIV will probably spread rapidly in Somalia once this virus has been introduced into the country.
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