Background: Female sex workers (FSWs) are at high risk for infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) despite infection being vaccine preventable. In Brazil, this vaccine has been available free of cost for female sex workers (FSWs) since the 1990s. However, there is no data on HBV vaccination in this population to subsidize health professionals to plan a vaccination strategy to this target population. The aims of this study were to evaluate the immunization status and compliance with full hepatitis B vaccine scheme among FSWs in Central Brazil.
Methods: Between June 2009 and june 2010, a total of 721 FSWs were interviewed face-to-face and screened for HBV markers (anti-HBc total and anti-HBs) by ELISA. Hepatitis B vaccine was offered to all women susceptible to HBV in their workplace using outreach strategies. Anti-HBs antibodies were detected after the third vaccine dose.
Results: Of 721 FSWs, 27.6% had serological evidence of previous hepatitis B vaccination. The majority of them were aged 18–25 years. 434 FSWs were susceptible to HBV infection, and 389/434 accepted the first vaccine dose. The second and third vaccine dose was administered in 249/389 (64%) and 146/389 (37.5%) women, respectively. In 105 women, blood samples were available for quantitative detection of anti-HBs antibodies, and 92.4% responded to hepatitis B vaccine. Changes of workplace and moving to another city were the main reasons for no compliance with full scheme.
Conclusions: Despite of availability of hepatitis B vaccine for at-risk population, vaccine coverage remains suboptimal. The low frequency of FSWs who received full vaccine scheme despite of high compliance with the first dose, highlights the need of a HBV vaccination program coordinated among venues frequented by sex workers in order to guarantee they receive the full vaccine scheme.