Seroprevalence of Hepatitis C antibodies amongst pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at Maiduguri, Nigeria
The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection may have a much greater effect on pregnancy and neonatal outcomes than previously reported, indicating that routine HCV screening in pregnant women may need to be reconsidered. Two hundred (200) serum samples from pregnant women attending antenatal clinic at University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri north-eastern Nigeria were screened for HCV antibodies using the HCV rapid immunoassay test strip which detects antibodies to HCV in the serum or plasma. A structured questionnaire was administered to obtain the risk factors in the population that were associated with the virus infection. Of the total samples analysed, 12(6%) were positive for Hepatitis C virus antibodies. The highest prevalence was found among the age groups 20-29 with an overall number of 6(3.0%) being positive for the HCV. Considering occupational exposure, higher seroprevalence was recorded among the civil servants, with 9(4.5%) being positive. The prevalence of HCV was statistically significant (p<0.05) for blood transfusion, with 4(2%), history of surgery 5(2.5%), while those with tribal mark/tattoo gave 8(4%) prevalence. This study emphasises the public health importance of HCV among the subjects screened, with a strong urge that blood should be well screened before transfusion.
Keywords: Hepatitis C, antibodies, pregnant women, ante-natal, Nigeria