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Prevalence of anti-HCV antibody in family members of anti-HCV-positive patients with acute and chronic liver disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.


Presence of circulating anti-hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) was screened in 201 Thai patients with acute and chronic liver disease who presented to Ramathibodi and Phya Thai Hospitals during 1984-1990. Of these, 29 patients (14.4%) were positive for anti-HCV. Circulating anti-HCV was determined in 92 family members (20 spouses, 72 household contacts) of these index cases and was detected in 5 contacts (2 spouses, 2 daughters and 1 mother) of 3 index cases. The overall prevalence of anti-HCV among the contacts was 5.4% (5/92) and it was higher in sexual partners (2/20, 10.0%) compared to other household contacts (3/72, 4.2%) but this was not statistically significant (p = 0.297). The anti-HCV-positive contacts were significantly older (mean +/- SD = 61.4 +/- 14.4) than the other contacts either comparing within the same families (26 +/- 16.5; p = 0.012) or all studied families (25.1 +/- 13.3; p = 0.006). One anti-HCV-positive contact had hepatocellular carcinoma, one had unexplained elevation of serum aminotransferase and the remaining 3 had no clinical or laboratory evidence of liver disease. All of the 3 index cases with anti-HCV-positive contacts, had chronic liver disease (2 cirrhosis, 1 chronic persistent hepatitis) and the prevalence of anti-HCV in these families (8/13, 61.5%) was significantly higher than the remaining 26 families (26/108, 24.1%) (p = 0.008). The results of this study suggest that sexual and other intrafamilial personal contact may be important for HCV transmission. Duration of close contact and family relationships appear to determine this mode of HCV transmission.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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