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BJOG. 2001 Apr;108(4):365-70.

Hepatitis C virus among high and low risk pregnant women in Dundee: unlinked anonymous testing.

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Glasgow University Department of Public Health, Scottish Centre for Infection and Environmental Health, UK.



To determine the prevalence of the hepatitis C virus among pregnant women, to gauge the non-injecting, particularly sexual, risk of them being hepatitis C virus infected and to assess the potential impact of selective antenatal screening.


Antenatal clinic attenders and women undergoing termination of pregnancy in 1997.


Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.


Unlinked anonymous hepatitis C virus antibody testing of residual sera from specimens sent to the virus laboratory for routine serological testing. The results were linked to non-identifying risk information.


Overall anti-hepatitis C virus prevalence was 0.6% (23/3,548). Prevalences among injecting drug users, non-injectors who had a sexual partner who injected, and those with neither risk respectively were 41% (7/17), 15% (5/33) and 0.3% (11/3,498). Relative risks for being an injector and a sexual partner of an injector respectively were 131 (95% CI 58-297) and 48 (95% CI 5-32). It is estimated that one of the 18 antenatal clinic attenders gave birth to an infected child.


Findings suggest that non-injecting partners of injectors may be at considerable risk of acquiring hepatitis C virus sexually. Efforts to promote the use of condoms among injectors and their sexual partners should be increased. Selective anti-hepatitis C virus screening of women who reported high risk behaviour would have failed to detect half the cases. Research to gauge the views of women of childbearing age on anti-hepatitis C virus testing is required.

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