Oral daily preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) using emtricitabine (FTC)/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) is recommended as standard of care for prevention in individuals at high risk for HIV infection, including pregnant and postpartum cisgender women. FTC/TDF is also active against hepatitis B virus (HBV); however, concern has been raised that providing PrEP to individuals infected with HBV could lead to hepatitis flares and liver injury, especially in the setting of suboptimal PrEP use.
We conducted a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from the PrEP in pregnant and postpartum women (PrEP-PP) cohort study from February 2020–March 2022 in one antenatal care clinic in Cape Town, South Africa (SA) to evaluate: (1) the field performance of a point of care test (POCT) (Determine II, Abbott Inc., Japan) for diagnosis of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) in a maternity setting, (2) the prevalence of HBV in a cohort of pregnant women not living with HIV.
We enrolled 1194 HIV sero-negative pregnant women at their first antenatal visit. Median age was 26 years (IQR = 22–31 years); 52% were born before 1995 (before universal HBV vaccination had started in South Africa). Median gestational age was 22 weeks (IQR = 16–30 weeks). There were 8 POCT and laboratory confirmed HBV cases among 1194 women. The overall prevalence of 0.67% (95% CI = 0.34–1.32%). In women born before 1995, 8 of 622 women were diagnosed with HBsAg; the prevalence was 1.29% (95% CI = 0.65–2.52%), and in women born in 1995 or after (n = 572); the prevalence was 0% (95% CI = 0.0–0.67%). We confirmed the test results in 99.8% of the rapid HBsAg (Determine II). Sensitivity was 100% (95% CI = 68–100%). Specificity was 100% (95% CI = 99.67–100%).
The prevalence of HBV was very low in pregnant women not living with HIV and was only in women born before the HBV vaccine was included in the Expanded Program of Immunization. The Determine II POCT HBsAg showed excellent performance against the laboratory assay. HBV screening should not be a barrier to starting PrEP in the context of high HIV risk communities.