Background and aim: Prisons in Egypt do not currently screen for blood-borne viruses, and there are no statistics concerning the prevalence of hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus or human immunodeficiency virus among prisoners. This study was performed to detect the prevalence of antibodies against hepatitis C, hepatitis B core and human immunodeficiency virus among Egyptian prisoners.
Methods: The study was conducted in an Egyptian prison. The prisoners voluntarily completed a risk factor questionnaire and provided blood specimens for testing for antibodies against hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus core antigen and human immunodeficiency virus. Positive results were confirmed by the detecting HCV RNA via polymerase chain reaction. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to determine the factors that were independently associated with positive HCV serology.
Results: Five hundred resident prisoners were screened. The prevalence of hepatitis C virus antibodies was 15.8% (79/500), and viremia was confirmed by PCR in 77.2% (61/79) of the antibody-positive prisoners. The prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen was 9.8% (49/500), and 1.2% (6/500) of prisoners were dually infected with HBV and HCV. Antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus were not detected in any of the prisoners. The best predictor for hepatitis C and hepatitis B infection was a history of intravenous drug use (P<0.011 for HBV and P<0.001 for HCV), a period of >10 years spent in prison (P<0.052 for HBV and P<0.021 for HCV) and shared toiletries (P<0.059 for HBV and P<0.002 for HCV).
Conclusion: Hepatitis C and hepatitis B virus infections constitute an important public health problem in prisons. Public health strategies to prevent morbidity and mortality from these infections should include hepatitis B vaccination, HCV testing, counseling and medical management of infected prisoners.
Copyright © 2013 King Saud Bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.