Occult HBV infection (OBI), defined by the presence of HBV DNA in absence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), is a significant concern in the HIV-infected population. Of 441 HIV+/HBsAg- patients analyzed, the overall prevalence of OBI was 6.3% (28/441). OBI was identified in 21 anti-HBc positives (17.8%), as well as among those who lacked any HBV-specific serological markers (2.2%). Comparison with HIV/HBV co-infection revealed that the levels of CD4, ALT, and HBV DNA were significantly lower during occult infection. Discrete differences were also observed with respect to quasispecies divergence. Additionally, subgenotype D1 was most frequent in occult infection, while D2 was widespread during chronic infection. The majority (~90%) of occult D1 sequences had the sQ129R mutation in the surface gene. This study highlights several distinct features of OBI in India and underscores the need for additional HBV DNA screening in HIV-positive individuals.
Saha, D., Pal, A., Sarkar, N., Das, D., Blackard, J. T., Guha, S. K., … Chakravarty, R. (2017). Occult hepatitis B virus infection in HIV positive patients at a tertiary healthcare unit in eastern India. PLoS ONE, 12(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179035