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Ir Med J. 2013 May;106(5):136-9.

Universal antenatal screening for hepatitis C.

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Rotunda Hospital, Parnell St, Dublin.


The aims of this study were to pilot universal antenatal HCV screening and to determine the true seroprevalence of HCV infection in an unselected antenatal population. A risk assessment questionnaire for HCV infection was applied to all women booking for antenatal care over a 1-year period. In addition the prevalence of anti-HCV antibody positive serology in this population was determined. Over the course of the year, 9121 women booked for antenatal care at the Rotunda and 8976 women agreed to take part in the study, representing an uptake of 98.4%. 78 (0.9%) women were diagnosed as anti-HCV positive, the majority of whom were Irish (60.3%) or from Eastern Europe (24.4%). 73% of anti-HCV positive women reported one or more known risk factor with tattooing and a history of drug abuse the most commonly reported. 27% (n = 21) of anti-HCV positive women had no identifiable risk factors. Due to selective screening, seroprevalence of HCV is impossible to accurately calculate. However the universal screening applied here and the high uptake of testing has allowed the prevalence of anti-HCV among our antenatal population to be calculated at 0.9%. A significant proportion (27%) of anti-HCV positive women in this study reported no epidemiological risk factors at the time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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