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Eur J Epidemiol. 2000 Jan;16(1):87-91.

Hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus and human immunodeficiency virus infection in pregnant women in North-East Italy: a seroepidemiological study.

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Institute of Hygiene, University of Padua, Italy.



Pregnant women can be considered a sentinel population, because they are a relatively unselected population whose prevalence data may be extended to the general population.


A seroepidemiological study was carried out in Padua (North-East Italy) to assess the epidemiological aspects of HCV. HBV and HIV infection in 2059 pregnant women consecutively seen at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology during 1996. Out of them, 1804 (87.2%) were indigenous and 255 (12.8%) immigrants. Sociodemographical and sanitary data were collected for each woman.


The overall prevalence of anti-HCV was 1.9% (42.5% with detectable HCV-RNA); HBsAg was found in 1.0%: the prevalence of anti-HIV was 0.3%. Findings are substantially consistent with the epidemiological picture of such infections in the general population of our geographic area. A parenteral risk factor for HCV infection was found in 19 subjects (47.5%): 18 were intravenous drug users and 1 a blood transfusion recipient. HBsAg seroprevalence was higher in immigrants than in autochthonous (3.1% vs. 0.7% respectively, p < 0.01). One of the 6 anti-HIV positive women was intravenous drug user. Logistic regression analysis was carried out for each viral agent to determine which characteristics were independently associated with infection: anti-HCV prevalence resulted independently associated to Italian origin (OR: 3.7), unmarried status (OR: 2.7), unemployed condition (OR: 6.1) and history of previous abortion (OR: 2.8). HBsAg prevalence was independently associated to unemployed condition (OR: 10.8), whereas HIV positivity was significantly related to the unmarried status (OR: 18.5).


Our study pinpoints the need of screening all pregnant women for HCV and HIV infection, in addition to the HBsAg screening which is compulsory in Italy.

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