Despite having the highest hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence in the world, the ongoing level of HCV incidence in Egypt and its drivers are poorly understood. Whereas HCV mother-to-child infection is a well-established transmission route, there are no estimates of HCV infections resulting from vertical transmission for any country, including Egypt. The aim of this study was to estimate the absolute number of new HCV infections resulting from vertical transmission in Egypt. We developed a conceptual framework of HCV vertical transmission, expressed in terms of a mathematical model and based on maternal HCV antibody and viremia. The mathematical model estimated the number of HCV vertical infections nationally and for six subnational areas. Applying two vertical transmission risk estimates to the 2008 Egyptian birth cohort, we estimated that between 3,080 and 5,167 HCV infections resulted from vertical transmission among children born in 2008. HCV vertical transmission may account for half of incident cases in the <5-year age group. Disproportionately higher proportions of vertical infections were estimated in Lower Rural and Upper Rural subnational areas. This geographical clustering was a result of higher-area-level HCV prevalence among women and higher fertility rates.
Conclusion: Vertical transmission is one of the primary HCV infection routes among children<5 years in Egypt. The absolute number of vertical transmissions and the young age at infection highlight a public health concern. These findings also emphasize the need to quantify the relative contributions of other transmission routes to HCV incidence in Egypt.
© 2014 The Authors. Hepatology published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., on behalf of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.