African Health Sciences

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Hepatitis C and blood transfusion among children attending the Sickle Cell Clinic at Mulago Hospital, Uganda

SOM Namasopo, C Ndugwa, JK Tumwine


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) accounts for 90% of post-transfusion hepatitis. In Uganda, there has been limited research of prevalence of HCV among sickle cell anaemia (SS) patients, a group at risk for multiple transfusions.
Objectives: To establish prevalence of HCV infection and determine whether blood transfusion increases risk among SS patients.
Methods 244 SS patients aged 1-18 years were recruited by consecutive sampling. Socio-demographic, clinical and transfusion history was collected. Clinical examination done and blood tested for HCV by MEIA.
Results: 244 children were recruited. Of these, 159 (65%) had a history of blood transfusion. Among the transfused, five patients were HCV positive. Four of these were over 12 years of age. Among patients with no history of transfusion, one patient aged 14 years was HCV positive. Risk of HCV was higher among the transfused OR 2.7(CI 0.31-24). Patients who received more than two units were more likely to be HCV positive (p=0.03).
Conclusions: HCV prevalence of 2.5% was low but higher than that  reported by other investigators in Uganda. Blood transfusion was a major contributing factor in occurrence of HCV. Children who get repeated  transfusions should be screened for Hepatitis C and screening of blood for HCV prior to transfusion would help reduce occurrence of the disease.

Keywords: Hepatitis C, Blood transfusion, Sickle cell
AJOL African Journals Online