Seroprevalence and Correlates of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Secondary School Children in Enugu, Nigeria
Background: Although children comprise a small fraction of the burden of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, which is a major global health challenge, a significant number of them develop chronic HCV infection and are at risk of its complications.
Aim: The aim of the current study was to determine the prevalence and associated factors of HCV infection in school children in Enugu urban.
Subjects and Methods: This was a cross‑sectional seroepidemiological study involving children aged 10–18 years selected using multistage systematic sampling in Enugu metropolis, Southeast Nigeria. The anti‑HCV was tested using a 3rd generation enzyme‑linked immunosorbent assay. Data were analyzed using SPSS Version 16.0 with the level of significance set at P < 0.05.
Results: Four hundred and twenty children were selected and screened comprising 210 (50.0%) males and females. The seroprevalence of anti‑HCV was 4 (1.0%). Three (75%) out of the four positive cases for the anti‑HCV were females while one was a male giving a male to female ratio of 0.3–1. Traditional scarifications/tattoos were the putative risk
factors observed to be significantly associated with anti‑HCV seropositivity. Conclusion: This study has demonstrated an anti‑HCV seroprevalence of 1.0% among children aged 10–18 years in Enugu with traditional scarification as the predominant associated risk factor. Proper health education including school health education and promotion of behavioral change among the public on the practice of safe scarifications/tattoos should be encouraged in our setting.
Keywords: Anti‑hepatitis C virus, Children, Prevalence, Risk factors