Seroprevalence of Hepatitis B and C Genotypes Among Young Apparently Healthy Females of Karachi-Pakistan
INTRODUCTION: Although the prevalence of hepatitis virus infections in Pakistan is still unknown, limited data indicate that the exposure rate to HBV is 35-38% with 4% being carriers and 32% having anti-HBV surface antibodies through natural conversion [1,2,3]. Studies in Pakistan have shown that the prevalence rate of HCV is 4.8-14% for, and that it is continuously increasing. Hence there is an urgent need to create awareness about the prevalence of both hepatitis B and C, and to develop preventive measures aimed at minimizing the prevalence of these diseases in the country. Study Design: Prospective, descriptive study. The study took place from March 2002 till October 2006 at two university campuses in Karachi.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A total of 4000 healthy female students were screened for HBs Ag, anti-HBs antibodies and anti-HCV antibodies by rapid immunochromatography, ELISA and PCR. RESULTS: A total of 3820 volunteers (95.5%) were negative by all three methods, 181 (4.5%) tested positive for HB surface antigen and 20 (0.5%) were positive for anti HB surface antibodies; 208 volunteers (5.2%) were positive for HCV. Double infection with HBV and HCV was found in only one patient (0.025%). Out of 180 HBs antigen positive samples 151 (83.89%) were genotype D, 28 (15.56%) showed mixed infection with genotypes B and D, and one patient (0.56%) showed mixed infection with genotypes C and D. Out of 208 samples positive for HCV antibodies, 107 (51.44%) were genotype 3a, 50 (24.04%) were mix of genotype 3a and 3b, 33 (15.87%) were genotype 3b, 10 (4.81%) were genotype 1b while, 8 (3.84%) samples could not be typed.
CONCLUSION: Although the presence of these pathogenic viruses was not very high in our young healthy female population, it is still a matter of concern to control the unregulated spread of these deadly infections by promoting increased awareness and regular immunization programs in the community. Local manufacturing of vaccines and related products may reduce these infections.
Keywords: HBV, HCV, healthy females, genotypes