- 1MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, London, UK.
- 2Division of Digestive Diseases, Department of Metabolism, Digestion and Reproduction, Imperial College London, London, UK.
Background: Progress towards viral hepatitis elimination goals relies on accurate estimates of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infection prevalence. We compared existing sources of country-level estimates from 2013 to 2017 to investigate the extent and underlying drivers of differences between them.
Methods: The four commonly cited sources of global-prevalence estimates, i.e. the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Schweitzer et al., the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDA Foundation, were compared by calculating pairwise differences between sets of estimates and assessing their within-country variation. Differences in underlying empirical data and modelling methods were investigated as contributors to differences in sub-Saharan African estimates.
Results: The four sets of estimates across all ages were comparable overall and agreed on the global distribution of HBV burden. The WHO and the CDA produced the most similar estimates, differing by a median of 0.8 percentage points. Larger discrepancies were seen in estimates of prevalence in children under 5 years of age and in sub-Saharan African countries, where the median pairwise differences were 2.7 percentage and 2.4 percentage points for all-age prevalence and in children, respectively. Recency and representativeness of included data, and different modelling assumptions of the age distribution of HBV burden, seemed to contribuxate to these differences.
Conclusion: Current prevalence estimates, particularly those from the WHO and the CDA based on more recent empirical data, provide a useful resource to assess the population-level burden of chronic HBV-infection. However, further seroprevalence data in young children are needed particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. This is a priority, as monitoring progress towards elimination depends on improved knowledge of prevalence in this age group.