Objectives: To determine the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in children with an unknown or negative human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status attending an urban hospital pediatric primary care clinic, and to identify HCV risk factors in their mothers.
Study design: This was a cross-sectional study of 1034 children tested for HCV antibodies (anti-HCV) after excluding children known to be HIV-positive. We assessed maternal HCV risk factors through structured interviews with a sample of mothers (n=573) and through review of available medical records (n=347) for a subsample of mother-child pairs. Means, proportions, and 95% confidence intervals were used to estimate the prevalence of anti-HCV and maternal risk factors.
Results: One child (0.1%; 95% CI, 0.002, 0.5) was anti-HCV positive. History of blood transfusion was reported by 7% of mothers and intravenous drug use (IVDU) by 1.8%. A subsample of mothers significantly underreported IVDU when compared with medical record review (1.5% vs 7.8%, P<.001).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that universal screening of children for HCV in high-risk urban communities is not warranted. However, self-report may not be reliable for identifying mothers with a history of IVDU, for whom HCV testing is recommended.