Prevalence of hepatitis B and C: A Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre experience

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Abstract

Aim:

To determine the prevalence of carriers of hepatitis B and C viruses among the obstetrical and gynecological population, the incidence of vertical transmission in obstetrical patients and to ascertain the risk factors associated with their transmission.

Methods:

We conducted a prospective study over a 1-year period, from 1 January to 31 December 2005, comprising of an obstetrical population of 5902 deliveries and 548 major gynecology surgery patients. The study population was recruited by simple convenient sampling at Unit-I, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi, Pakistan. Booked obstetrical and major gynecological surgical patients were routinely screened by Enzyme Immunoassay for hepatitis B surface antigen (HbsAg) and anti-hepatitis C antibodies (anti-HCV) on venous blood samples. Liver function and carrier profile tests were performed on mothers who were positive for HBsAg. Babies of mothers with HbsAg were tested at birth for both HbsAg and HbeAg.

Results:

Hepatitis B was detected in 275 pregnant women (4.6%) and in 70 (12%) gynecological patients. Hepatitis C was detected in 108 (1.8%) pregnant women and in 89 (16%) gynecological patients. Babies born to mothers with HBV or HCV infections tested negative. Four gynecological patients tested positive for both HBV and HCV infections. Unsafe surgery, injections and inadequately screened blood transfusions were the main underlying causes of infection.

Conclusion:

Routine screening of the obstetrical population detected more cases of HBV infection than HCV, whereas HCV was more prevalent in the gynecological population, emphasizing the need for safe medical practices and patient education.

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