Seroprevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in patients with thalassemia and sickle cell anemia in a long-term follow-up

Arch Med Res. 2006 Oct;37(7):895-8. doi: 10.1016/j.arcmed.2006.04.007.


Background: Transfusion-dependent patients are more prone to acquiring various transfusion-transmitted infections such as hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The aim of the study was to investigate the prevalence of these infections in patients with thalassemia and with sickle cell anemia (SCA) receiving multiple blood transfusions.

Methods: The subjects of the present study were 399 multi-transfused patients with beta-thalassemia major or intermedia and SCA who have been registered at the two regional hemoglobinopathy centers in Turkey since 1996. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis C virus antibodies (anti-HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus antibodies (anti-HIV) tests were assayed by a second-generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay method.

Results: Of the 399 patients, 3 were HBsAg positive (0.75%), 18 were anti-HCV positive (4.5%), and none was anti-HIV positive. All patients with HBsAg and 14 (77.7 %) patients with HCV received initial blood transfusions before second-generation tests were performed. Patients who were anti-HCV positive had a significantly higher mean number of blood transfusions and peak serum alanine transaminase level than anti-HCV-negative patients.

Conclusions: These results showed that after introduction of more sensitive screening tests and stringent donor selection procedures, incidence of HCV infection was significantly reduced, but there was still a serious risk for HCV infection, and there was a minor risk for HBV infection in patients with thalassemia and SCA.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / therapy*
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood
  • Blood Transfusion*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • HIV / immunology
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis B / immunology
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / immunology
  • Hepatitis C / embryology*
  • Hepatitis C / immunology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Thalassemia / therapy*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens