Sero-prevalence of hepatitis C antibodies in pregnant women in Port Harcourt, Nigeria

  • AC Ojule
  • CI Akani
  • HC Opurum


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is now a pandemic, with most of those infected thought to be in developing countries, including sub-Saharan Africa. HCV has emerged as the most important cause of chronic liver disease worldwide and an important cause of acute hepatitis and jaundice in pregnancy, with its attendant serious complications. Aim: To provide some preliminary data on HCV epidemiology in pregnant women in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Methods: Serial recruitment of 600 patients attending the ante-natal clinic of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Nigeria was carried out. HCV testing was done using a rapid ELISA kit. The results are reported as percentages of the total study population. Differences between the groups were compared using the chi-squared test and p<0.05 was regarded as statistically significant. Results: Of the 600 subjects, 26 (4.3%) tested positive to anti-HCV. Previous histories of blood transfusion, dental manipulations, tattooing and circumcision did not appear to be important modes of transmission of HCV in this locality. Conclusion: HCV infection is fairly common among pregnant women in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. It is suggested that in addition to improved compliance with universal safety precautions, ante-natal patients and healthcare staff should be routinely screened for their HCV status in order to reduce vertical transmission of HCV and transmission between patients and health staff.

Keywords: Sero-prevalence, Hepatitis C, Antibodies, Pregnancy, Nigeria

Port Harcourt Medical Journal Vol. 3 (1) 2008: pp. 55-61

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eISSN: 0795-3038