Increasing hepatitis B vaccination coverage and decreasing hepatitis B co-infection prevalence among people with HIV-1 in Germany, 1996–2019. Results from a cohort study primarily in men who have sex with men
Objectives Viral hepatitis co-infection among people living with HIV is known to accelerate the progression of liver disease and AIDS. An increased prevalence and incidence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection among people living with HIV demands continuous monitoring to adapt targeted prevention strategies to reach the global goals of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat. Methods We determined the prevalence and incidence of HBV for the years 1996–2019 from yearly blood sample testing and questionnaire reports among people living with HIV belonging to a nationwide, multicentre observational, prospective cohort study. Results Among this study population of 3479 participants, the majority (87%) indicated that being men who have sex with men (MSM) was their likely HIV transmission route; 51% were recruited from Berlin. HBV prevalence for acute/chronic and resolved infections decreased from 4.1% and 45% in 1996–1999 to 1.3% and 16% in 2019, respectively. Simultaneously, participants with a serological status indicating HBV vaccination increased from 25% in 1996–1999 to 69% in 2019. Among vaccinated participants with relevant information (n = 1135), 38% received their first HBV vaccination after HIV infection. The HBV incidence rate in 565 eligible participants decreased from 6.9/100 person-years in 2004–2007 to 0.45/100 person-years in 2015. Conclusion Increasing vaccination coverage because of a general HBV vaccination recommendation and catch-up vaccination efforts among risk groups decreased HBV infection prevalence over time among this study population of people living with HIV, primarily MSM and from Berlin. Despite this success, the prevalence and incidence of HBV remains higher than in the general population in Germany. This emphasizes the need for continued HBV prevention by promoting HBV vaccination and HBV screening at regular intervals based on the individual risk behaviour.
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