Hepatitis C virus infection in pregnant women in Southeastern Nigeria
Objective: To determine the seroprevalence of Hepatitis C virus and its possible risk factors in antenatal clinic attendees.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey involving 820 consecutive and consenting antenatal clinic attendees at five antenatal clinics in Aba, Southeastern Nigeria over the period 15 June – 15 November, 2010. A structured pretested questionnaire administered by research assistants was used to collect and record data on the medical and sociodemographic characteristics of the subjects. Blood samples were collected from the consenting antenatal clinic attendees and tested for Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) antibodies using rapid test Elisa kits (Acon laboratories, USA).
Results: Twelve (1.5%) of the 820 antenatal clinic attendees were found to be HCV positive and asymptomatic. History of having received blood transfusion in the past was associated with HCV seropositivity (p<0.05). Maternal age, parity, educational level attained, marital status. Intravenous drug use, tattooing or jaundice in the past and Human Immunodeficiency Virus positivity did not show any association with HCV seropositivity.
Conclusion: HCV seropositive pregnant women in the study were asymptomatic and showed no association with the medical and sociodemographic characteristics examined except with a history of having received blood transfusion in the past. This strengthens the case for routine HCV screening in pregnancy in our setting.
Key words: Hepatitis C, Virus, Infection, Pregnancy.