Objectives: An estimated 150-200 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C. Only limited information about the epidemiology of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is available. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies and the possible factors for transmission in the female population of a largely urban city, Islamabad, Pakistan.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted from May to August 2006 in Islamabad. The city is divided into forty union councils. Five union councils were selected randomly and then, we randomly selected 252 female households (n = 252) of age ranges between 15-50 years who were able to read and write the self-administered questionnaires. Those with severe debilitating disease, physical or mental handicapped or those who did not give consent and known cases of HCV were excluded. The primary outcome variables were HCV seropositivity and factors as history of major surgical procedure, blood transfusion and intravenous drug use.
Results: The mean age of participants was 33.21 (9.95) years and HCV seropositivity prevalence was 62 (24.6%). Final forward stepwise multiple logistic regression showed blood transfusion [OR, 10.09; 95% CI: 1.95-52.25], dental procedure [OR, 5.38; 95% CI: 2.31-12.50] and dilation and curettage [OR, 3.86; 95% CI: 1.86-8.01] were significantly associated with HCV seropositivity.
Conclusions: The study highlights the poor quality of care provided and a massive need to educate general population including patients as well as health professionals and allied health workers for controlling, combating and preventing the wild epidemic of HCV.
Keywords: Hepatitis C; Pakistan; Prevalence; Risk factors.