Hepatitis B core (anti-HBc) antibody is an effective marker for occult Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and is an integral part of blood donor screening in many countries. This study was aimed to evaluate the prevalence of anti-HBc antibodies among voluntary blood donors in Thailand and its significance to reduce the risk of transfusion transmitted HBV infection.
A total of 3,197 voluntary blood donor samples that were pre-screened non-reactive for HBs-Ag serology and HBV ID-NAT were tested for anti-HBc Total and IgM antibody and anti-HBs titers on ARCHITECT i6000 (Abbott Diagnostics, Illinois) between May1, 2017 and September 31, 2017 at the National Blood Centre, Thai Red Cross Society, Bangkok, Thailand.
Of the 3,197 HBsAg serology and HBV ID-NAT non-reactive voluntary blood donor samples, 659 (20.6%) were found to be reactive for anti-HBc. Of these, 118 were anti-HBs negative or < 10 IU/L where as 163 had anti-HBs titers between 10-99 IU/L and the remaining 378 had anti-HBs titers ≤ 100-500 IU/L.
Overall 20.6 percent of study donor population was found to be anti-HBc reactive of which 42.6 percent had anti-HBs < 100 IU/L titers which could lead to the increased risk of post-transfusion hepatitis depending on the HBV DNA levels in the blood products and recipient's immune status. The finding of "anti-HBc alone" reactive (118/3197;3.69%) donations percentage towards higher side highlighted the need for further investigation to ensure and implement stringent screening system to prevent occult HBV transfusion transmitted infection in the country.