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J Egypt Public Health Assoc. 1999;74(3-4):313-32.

Hepatitis C virus transmission in family members of Egyptian patients with HCV related chronic liver disease.

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  • 1Department of Tropical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ain Shams University.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Egypt has become a major public health problem. In the present study, sexual and intrafamilial transmission of HCV infection were assessed in the family members of 200 Egyptian patients (index patients) with HCV-RNA positive and biopsy ascertained chronic hepatitis C. Index patients were 139 men (mean age 55+/-11 years) and 61 women (mean age 48+/-8 years). Family members consisted of 200 spouses; 139 women (mean age 45+/-12 years) and 61 men (mean age 58+/-9 years); and 355 children (183 males and 172 females, mean age 11.8+/-10 years). All the family members were tested for the presence of antibodies to HCV in their sera. Thereafter, HCV-RNA detection by PCR and HCV serotype determination were performed in antibody positive contacts. Hepatitis C virus antibodies were detected in 28 (14%) spouses, all of them were also positive for HCV-RNA. Hepatitis C virus serotypes were identical in HCV seropositive patient-spouse pairs (Serotype 4). None of the 355 children involved in this study showed HCV antibodies in their sera. No significant difference was found between the prevalence of male-to-female and female-to-male transmission of HCV. A highly significant association was found between both the age of the spouse and the duration of marriage to index patient and HCV seropositivity in spouses. Moreover, HCV seropositivity in spouses was significantly related to increased serum ALT and HCV-RNA levels, histological severity of chronic hepatitis C and to a history of dental care, as a risk factor for HCV acquisition, in index patients. It was concluded that spouses of patients with HCV viremia and chronic liver disease have an increased risk for acquiring HCV, while intrafamilial acquisition of HCV in non sexual contacts seems to be rare. The authors suggest that spouses of HCV viraemic patients should be followed routinely for markers of HCV infection and liver disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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