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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 65-73

Seroprevalence of Hepatitis C viral antibodies in pregnancy in a tertiary health facility in Nigeria

Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Benin City, Benin City, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
J U Onakewhor
Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Benin City, Benin City, Nigeria

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19562925

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BACKGROUND: Liver disease due to Hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection is the most common indication for liver transplant. It is a viral pandemic that is five times as widespread as the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. In spite of this, vaccines were yet unavailable for protection of the human race due to the morphology and fastidious nature of the organism. While the scanty data available on this infection in our environment are limited to blood donors, people continue to be screened for and deprived of renal dialysis if any patient is found to have HCV infection. Also in this environment, data on HCV infection in pregnancy is virtually nonexistent even though the infection can have a deleterious effect on materno-fetal outcome. OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY: To determine the seroprevalence of hepatitis C viral antibodies among antenatal women attending a tertiary health facility in Nigeria. METHODOLOGY: This was a prospective cross-sectional study whose subjects were booked consecutive antenatal women volunteers attending the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Nigeria between June 1 and December 31, 2005. Hepatitis C viral antibodies were determined and confirmed using a second and a third generation Enzyme Linked immunosorbent assay respectively. Both HCV sero-positive and seronegative women had both pre-and post-test counseling. RESULTS: Of the 269 samples screened for HCV antibodies, 5 (1.86%) samples were confirmed seropositive. None of the HCV seropositive women had liver enzyme derangement. CONCLUSION: Hepatitis C viral infection in pregnancy is not uncommon in Nigeria. It's prevalence in pregnant women South-South of Nigerian is similar to that of their Cameroonian counterparts, an immediate neighbouring country. A multi-centre study to determine the national prevalence of HCV and in addition to elevation of public awareness is suggested. Hepatitis C viral-induced liver disease remains the major indication for liver transplant for which our present levels of economy and health infrastructures can least support. With no vaccines and no cure, the time to act is now.

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