Nigerian Journal of Paediatrics

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Prevalence of hepatitis C Antibody in Human Immunodeficiency Virus infected children

S Musa, AM Yakubu, HM Muktar


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health problem for Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected population. Both infections share same routes of transmission, and quite often co-exist, with dual infections associated with reciprocal and mutually more rapid progression than either infection alone. Co-infection also adversely impacts on the course and management of both infections. This study was carried out to document the prevalence and determinants of HCV sero-positivity in HIVinfected children.

Methodology: A total of 132 HIVinfected children attending the Paediatric Antiretroviral Clinic were recruited as subjects. Another 132 HIV negative children matched for age and sex were recruited as controls. Relevant demographic data was taken from each child. Blood samples were also obtained from each child and from their mothers when available, and assayed for the presence of anti-HCV using a membranebased immune-assay kit.

Results: The sero-prevalence of HCV antibodies was 9.8% among HIV-infected children and 3.0% among the controls. This was a statistically significant difference (p = 0.042, Fisher exact). HCV sero-postivity was more frequent in children after 5 years of age in both subjects (92.3%) and controls (100.0%). Injection at patent medicine vendor (PMV) was noted to be the most risky practice leading to HCV in children, with more than thrice the chances of HCV sero-positivity than in those who didn’t receive injections at PMV. Four mothers of the HIV-infected children were co-infected with HCV and none in the control group. All 4 children of these dually infected mothers were also co-infected. Controlling for other factors, children of HIV infected mothers were more than twice as likely to have HCV antibody as children whose mothers were HIV negative (RR = 2.67). Similarly, HCV infected mothers have 12% greater chance of transmitting HCV to their children than noninfected mothers and children delivered vaginally were 1.6 times more likely to have HCV antibody than those delivered via caesarean section.

Conclusions: The prevalence of anti-HCV in HIV-infected children is significantly higher than that of HIV uninfected peers. Factors strongly associated with HCV sero -positivity identified are maternal HIV and HCV infections, vaginal delivery and injections at patent medicine vendor.

Keywords: HCV; HIV; children
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