Serum markers for hepatitis B virus (HBV) were studied in 395 healthy control subjects and in 100 diabetic patients. Of the patients, 28 had type I diabetes, 31 had type II diabetes requiring insulin, and 41 had type II diabetes treated with oral agents or diet alone. None gave history of previous icterus or other signs of hepatitis, had received blood transfusions, or had been on hemodialysis. There was a significant difference in the prevalence of HBV markers (mainly HB surface antibody) between the diabetic group and the controls (51% versus 25%, P < 0.001). The control subjects included hospital personnel and, hence, their risk of HBV exposure was already relatively high. The increased occurrence of HBV markers did not seem to be related to diabetes duration, patient age, intake of insulin injections, or presence of microvascular complications. This study reveals a high degree of exposure to HBV in a moderately controlled diabetic group and possibly a high degree of proneness to subclinical hepatitis B.

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