Bouare et al found that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Malian women is mainly transmitted through medical procedures with contaminated supplies, and that human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission is predominantly sexual. The results of this study confirm those of a recent case-control study in New York and Oregon which demonstrated that healthcare exposures represent an important source of new HCV infections in United States. HCV seroprevalence was only 0.2% in pregnant, young Malian women, indicating that hygiene improved in healthcare facilities over time. Heterosexual transmission of HCV is exceptional, and can occur, from males to females, in extremely rare occasions in case of vaginal mucosal damage or less rarely through anal intercourse. The Malian study did not show an association between HIV infection and hospitalization, transfusion, tattoo, dental care. Transmission by needle-stick injury occurs in 0.9%-2.2% of exposures from HCV-infected subjects and in 0.1%-0.3% of exposures from HIV-infected individuals. HCV is therefore more transmissible through percutaneous exposure.
Keywords: Hepatitis C virus; Human immunodeficiency virus; Pregnant women; Sub-Saharan Africa; Transmission.