OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and risk factors for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections among individuals attending an STD clinic in a low endemic region. STUDY DESIGN: A total of 1228 women and 1648 men attending the STD clinic at the University Hospital Rotterdam, Netherlands, were examined for HBV infection by determination of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc). Demographic characteristics, information on sexual behaviour, and intravenous drug use were recorded. RESULTS: The seroprevalence of HBsAg was 1.4% in women and 2.1% in men (0% in homosexual men). The seroprevalence of anti-HBc was 13% in women and 20% in men (36% in homosexual men). Native country, intravenous drug use, a history of STD, and the number of partners in the past half year (inversely) were independent risk factors for HBsAg positivity in women and heterosexual men. For anti-HBc independent associations were observed for native country, age, intravenous drug use, commercial sex, number of lifetime partners, homosexual contacts, orogenital contact (inverse), and a history of STD. CONCLUSION: The HBV prevalence in the STD clinic attendants was high, exceeding the national estimate, and indicates that the STD clinic population may be considered a high risk group. Our data confirmed an increased risk for HBV infections among established risk groups. Therefore, these risk groups should be routinely screened to identify HBV cases for counselling and contact tracing.
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