EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF EPIDEMIOLOGY, vol.19, no.3, pp.267-273, 2004 (Journal Indexed in SCI)
Turkey is a middle endemic area with respect to Hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection. However, the frequency of this infection varies due to socioeconomic differences in various regions. The aim of this study was to detect the most likely age of exposure to HAV and factors affecting infection rates among children living in Edirne. A sample of 645 children between the ages of 0-19 living in Edirne were tested for total anti-HAV levels using ELISA method. A questionnaire on socio-economic status (SES), possible risk factors, and place of residence was completed for each child. Anti-HAV seropositivity was found to be 4.4, 25, 37.3 and 43.2%, in 2-5, 6-10, 11-14 and 15-19 age groups, respectively. Seropositivity was found to be increasing with age (p < 0.05). According to logistic regression analysis results; mother's education, SES of family, history of hepatitis in primary family members and the number of brothers or sisters were determined as factors increasing the seropositivity of HAV. Furthermore, HAV infection risk was found to be a decreasing function of income that is higher the income less likely the infection. These results showed that HAV infection rate in Edirne is in middle endemicity and the most likely way of exposure is transmission from family members. Although it requires further cost-effectiveness studies, our results indicate that applying the HAV vaccination in early childhood would be beneficial to decrease the prevalence of the infection and prevent HAV epidemics.