Background: Children have largely been ignored in the fight against sexually transmitted infection (STI). Among children, STI is reported to be a globally emerging public health challenge. We evaluated the burden of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and syphilis among children (< 15 years old) and its determinants in urban Ethiopia. Methods: For this study, we used data from the Ethiopian Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (EPHIA), collected through a nationally representative, community-based study conducted in Ethiopia from October 2017 to April 2018. We used plasma samples from 4729 children. Moreover, we linked the data and analysed them alongside their respective mothers. Child and maternal HIV status was determined using the national testing algorithm. Plasma samples from children were also tested for syphilis and HBV surface antigen. A descriptive analysis was done followed by bivariable analysis with 95% confidence interval (CI) at a significance level of p < 0.05. We finally evaluated predictors of STIs using regression analysis. Results: HIV, HBV and syphilis prevalence rates among urban children in Ethiopia were 0.36%, 1.48% and 0.28%, respectively. Children living in Gambella and Addis Ababa had a 6.41-fold (95% CI: 3.20–9.88) and 4.20-fold (95% CI: 3.24–5.46) higher risk of HIV infection compared with those in Dire Dawa. Children of HIV-positive mothers had a 10.31-fold (95% CI: 3.20–18.19) higher risk of HIV infection, and if those mothers were not taking highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), the risk was 7.27 times higher (95% CI: 2.57–12.64). Those who were from HIV-positive mothers with viral load ≥ 1000 copies/mL had a 18.64-fold (95% CI: 6.36–31.24) higher risk of HIV infection and those with a history of breastfeeding had a 3.27-fold (95% CI: 1.11–5.67) higher risk. Children from Addis Ababa had a 3.26-fold (95% CI: 1.64–6.66) higher risk of HBV infection compared with those from Dire Dawa. Moreover, for those from HIV-positive mothers and whose mother was not taking HAART, the risk of HBV transmission was 6.37 (95% CI: 2.20–19.96) and 3.62 (95% CI: 1.27–11.29), respectively. Children living in Gambella, Somali, Afar and Tigray had a 7.21-fold (95% CI: 2.30–18.68), 3.10-fold (95% CI: 1.28–3.74) and 1.32-fold (95% CI: 1.11–3.38) higher risk of acquiring active syphilis compared with those living in Dire Dawa, respectively. Those from HIV-positive mothers also had a 4.22-fold (95% CI: 1.16–8.39) higher risk of acquiring active syphilis. Conclusion: The burden of HIV, HBV and syphilis was high among children in urban Ethiopia. The key determinants for the high burden of HIV, syphilis and HBV were maternal factors including maternal HIV status and breastfeeding. This might be due to the challenges associated with mother-to-child transmission. Hence, the programme shall focus on the elimination of the triple infections of HIV, syphilis and HBV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)676-690
Number of pages15
JournalHIV Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023


  • HBV
  • HIV
  • children
  • mother-to-child transmission
  • sexually transmitted infection
  • syphilis


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