Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
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Year : 1977  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 186-188  

Hepatitis B antigen and venereal diseases (A preliminary study)

RS Shetty1, JP Bapat2, SH Joshi2, AJ Baxi2,  
1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, K.E.M. Hospital, Bombay-400012, India
2 B.G.R.C. Unit, Haffkine Institute, Bombay-400 012., India

Correspondence Address:
R S Shetty
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, K.E.M. Hospital, Bombay-400012


226 volunteer donors and 320 cases of syphilis (with positive VDRL test) were screened for hepatitis B antigen (HBs Ag, Australia antigen). The incidence of hepatitis B antigen in these groups was 0.88% and nil respectively. The present data, though small in size do not indicate any positive correlation between HBsAg and syphilis-as claimed by other workers.

How to cite this article:
Shetty R S, Bapat J P, Joshi S H, Baxi A J. Hepatitis B antigen and venereal diseases (A preliminary study).J Postgrad Med 1977;23:186-188

How to cite this URL:
Shetty R S, Bapat J P, Joshi S H, Baxi A J. Hepatitis B antigen and venereal diseases (A preliminary study). J Postgrad Med [serial online] 1977 [cited 2020 Dec 2 ];23:186-188
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Full Text


Large number of diseases have been investigated for the presence of hepatitis B antigen (HB S Ag, Australia antigen) following the discovery by Blumberg and his colleagues. [6],[13] The age old hypothesis that serum hepatitis (type B) is trans­mitted through the parenteral route only has been belied after Krugman and his associates showed clearly that hepatitis F infection can be transmitted through fae­cal oral route also. [7] Recent studies [8],[9] have suggested that HB S Ag and/or hepa­titis B viral infection can be produced by sexual route. While Vranckx [15] and others have obtained evidence of a high rate of HB S Ag positivity (9.1%) among the cases of syphilis, there are other reports, [1],[14] suggesting negative correlation of HB S Ag and venereal diseases.

We have reported HB S Ag status in a number of disorders including viral hepa­titis, cirrhosis, leukemia, lepromatous leprosy and renal diseases previous­ly. [4],[5],[12]

The incidence of HB S Ag and anti HB S Ag in patients suffering from syphilis from Bombay is obtained in this prelimi­nary communication.

 Material and Methods

Blood samples were collected for the HB s Ag and anti HB S Ag detection from 226 healthy volunteer donors and 320 patients suffering from syphilis. Serologic tests specific for syphilis were done ac­cording to the standard routine testing (VDRL test).

Since the number of samples investi­gated is small no attempt has been made to classify the disorders. Clear separated serum was used for screening of HB S Ag and anti HB S Ag by counter immuno­electrophoresis (CEP) as outlined by Bapat et al. [2] Positive and negative con­trols were used with each batch of test samples.

 Results and Discussion

No positive sample for HB s Ag was demonstrated among 320 patients of vary­ing severity of syphilis. Under identical conditions, the healthy volunteer donors showed an incidence of 0.88%, which is in accord with earlier reports from this laboratory and others. [3],[4],[5] Absence of HB s Ag among patients of syphilis in the present study is rather surprising. A number of reports on the association of HB s Ag with venereal diseases including syphilis have appeared. [8],[9],[15] Positive association of high incidence of HB s Ag in venereal diseases have been shown by some workers-while a negative correla­tion was also reported. [1],[14] The decreased cell mediated immunity has been held responsible for higher incidence of HB s Ag in several investigations. [10] Rea­sons for the absence of HB s Ag in the present study are obscure. However two possibilities exist.

1. It is possible that HB s Ag may have been present during the early stages of disease and may have disappeared at the time of testing.

2. The HB s Ag may be present in a low titre and may have thus escaped the detection by CEP technique which is comparatively insensitive when compared to haemagglutination assay (HA) [3] or radio-immuno-assay (RIA). [11] This postu­late has bearing on our previous work wherein we have shown that HB s Ag in the later stages of viral hepatitis is not detectable. [12] Anti-HB s Ag was also not detected in any of the samples. Present study indicates that a large sample of venereal disease may have to be investi­gated using more sensitive techniques like HA and RIA-in order to come to definite conclusion on HB s Ag status in venereal diseases.


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2Bapat, J. P., Baxi, A. J. and Kulkarni, K. V.: A rapid counter-immuno-electro­phoresis technique for the detection o' Australia antigen and alpha-protein on the same slide. Ind. J. Med. Res., 61: 1036­1938. 1973.
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15Vranckx. R.: Hepatitis B Ag. and sero­logic incidence of syphilis. Lancet, 1: 1193, 1975.

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