Table of Contents

Component Description

Hepatitis viruses constitute a major public health problem because of the morbidity and mortality associated with the acute and chronic consequences of these infections. New immunization strategies have been developed to eliminate the spread of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the hepatitis A virus (HAV) in the United States. Recommendations have also been developed for the prevention and control of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Because of the high rate of asymptomatic infection with these viruses, information about the prevalence of these diseases is needed to monitor prevention efforts. By testing a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population, NHANES will provide the most reliable estimates of age-specific prevalence needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies to prevent these infections. In addition, NHANES provides the means to better define the epidemiology of other hepatitis viruses. NHANES testing for markers of infection with hepatitis viruses will be used to determine secular trends in infection rates across most age and racial/ethnic groups, and will provide a national picture of the epidemiologic determinants of these infections.

Eligible Sample

Examined participants aged 2 years and older were eligible.

Description of Laboratory Methodology

The VITROS Anti-HAV Total assay is performed using the VITROS Immunodiagnostic Products Anti-HAV Total Reagent Pack and the VITROS Immunodiagnostic Products Anti-HAV Total Calibrator on the VITROS ECi/ECiQ or VITROS 3600 Immunodiagnostic System.

A competitive immunoassay technique is used, which involves pre-incubation of anti-HAV in the sample with HAV antigen in the assay reagent, followed by incubation with a conjugate reagent that contains biotinylated mouse monoclonal anti-HAV antibody and horseradish peroxidase (HRP)-labeled mouse monoclonal anti-HAV antibody. The immune complex is captured by streptavidin on the wells. Unbound materials are removed by washing.

The bound HRP conjugate is measured by a luminescent reaction. A reagent containing luminogenic substrates (a luminol derivative and a peracid salt) and an electron transfer agent, is added to the wells. The HRP in the bound conjugate catalyzes the oxidation of the luminol derivative, producing light. The electron transfer agent (a substituted acetanilide) increases the level of light produced and prolongs its emission. The light signals are read by the VITROS ECi/ECiQ or VITROS 3600 Immunodiagnostic System. The binding of HRP is indicative of the absence of anti-HAV antibody.

Refer to the Laboratory Method Files section for a detailed description of the laboratory methods used.

There were no changes to the lab method, lab equipment, or lab site for this component in the NHANES 2017-2018 cycle.

Laboratory Method Files

Hepatitis A Antibody Laboratory Procedure Manual (February 2020)

Laboratory Quality Assurance and Monitoring

Serum specimens were processed, stored, and shipped to the Division of Viral Hepatitis, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA for analysis.

Detailed instructions on specimen collection and processing are discussed in the NHANES Laboratory Procedures Manual (LPM). Vials were stored under appropriate frozen (–30°C) conditions until they were shipped to Division of Viral Hepatitis, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention for testing.

The NHANES quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) protocols meet the 1988 Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act mandates. Detailed QA/QC instructions are discussed in the NHANES LPM.

Mobile Examination Centers (MECs)

Laboratory team performance is monitored using several techniques. NCHS and contract consultants use a structured competency assessment evaluation during visits to evaluate both the quality of the laboratory work and the quality-control procedures. Each laboratory staff member is observed for equipment operation, specimen collection and preparation; testing procedures and constructive feedback are given to each staff member. Formal retraining sessions are conducted annually to ensure that required skill levels were maintained.

Analytical Laboratories

NHANES uses several methods to monitor the quality of the analyses performed by the contract laboratories. In the MEC, these methods include performing blind split samples collected on “dry run” sessions. In addition, contract laboratories randomly perform repeat testing on 2% of all specimens.

Data Processing and Editing

The data were reviewed. Incomplete data or improbable values were sent to the performing laboratory for confirmation.

Analytic Notes

Refer to the 2017-2018 Laboratory Data Overview for general information on NHANES laboratory data.

There are over 800 laboratory tests performed on NHANES participants. However, not all participants provided biospecimens or enough volume for all the tests to be performed. The specimen availability can also vary by age or other population characteristics. For example, in 2017-2018, approximately 80% of children aged 1-17 years who were examined in the MEC provided a blood specimen through phlebotomy, while 95% of examined adults age 18 and older provided a blood specimen. Analysts should evaluate the extent of missing data in the dataset related to the outcome of interest as well as any predictor variables used in the analyses to determine whether additional re-weighting for item non-response is necessary.

Please refer to the NHANES Analytic Guidelines and the on-line NHANES Tutorial for further details on the use of sample weights and other analytic issues.

Demographic and Other Related Variables

The analysis of NHANES laboratory data must be conducted using the appropriate survey design and demographic variables. The NHANES 2017-2018 Demographics File contains demographic data, health indicators, and other related information collected during household interviews as well as the sample design variables. The recommended procedure for variance estimation requires use of stratum and PSU variables (SDMVSTRA and SDMVPSU, respectively) in the demographic data file.

This laboratory data file can be linked to the other NHANES data files using the unique survey participant identifier (i.e., SEQN).

Detection Limits

The assay used in this study cannot differentiate between natural infection and vaccination; therefore, seropositivity for anti-HAV reflects either natural or vaccine-induced immunity.

This data is qualitative. The use of lower limits of detection (LLODs) is not applicable.

Codebook and Frequencies

SEQN - Respondent sequence number

Variable Name:
SAS Label:
Respondent sequence number
English Text:
Respondent sequence number
Both males and females 2 YEARS - 150 YEARS

LBXHA - Hepatitis A antibody

Variable Name:
SAS Label:
Hepatitis A antibody
English Text:
Hepatitis A antibody
Both males and females 2 YEARS - 150 YEARS
Code or Value Value Description Count Cumulative Skip to Item
1 Positive 4405 4405
2 Negative 2693 7098
3 Indeterminate 1 7099
. Missing 1054 8153