Viral infections among couples for assisted reproduction in a fertility clinic in Nigeria
Context: The risk of laboratory cross‑contamination may limit the availability of assisted conception for couples infected with chronic viruses. However, assisted conception is the standard of care for people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to minimize risk of transmission or reinfection.
Aims: To assess the burden of viral infection among couples that present for assisted reproductive technology (ART) with a view to evaluating implications for their care.
Settings and Design: A cross‑sectional descriptive study carried out among 138 couples at a private fertility clinic in Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: Screening for HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus were carried out among these clients. The males’ seminal parameters were analyzed according to World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.
Statistical analysis Used: Statistical Package for Social Sciences was employed. Analysis was by Chi‑square test; statistical significance was set at 0.05.
Results: Viral infections were found in 10/138 women (7.2%) and 15/138 (10.9%) men. The most prevalent infection was HBV. Twenty‑one couples were sero‑discordant. Two couples had concordant HIV and HBV infections, respectively. There was no significant association between sperm quality and chronic hepatitis infection.
Conclusion: Nearly a fifth of the couples had at least one partner infected with a chronic virus – a proportion significant enough to demand attention. Apart from separate laboratory and storage facilities, basic principles to minimize transmission are recommended: HBV vaccination in sero‑discordant partners of HBV carriers (and immunoprophylaxis for the baby) and antiretroviral therapy for HIV‑positive partners to reduce the viral load before fertility treatment is commenced.
Key words: Assisted reproduction, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, human immunodeficiency virus