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Infection. 1994 Sep-Oct;22(5):333-7.

Prevalence of anti-HCV and risk factors for hepatitis C virus infection in healthy pregnant women.

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Dept. of Infectious Diseases, S. Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy.


The prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies and the risk factors for HCV infection were assessed in 5,672 pregnant women living in North Italy. All reactive sera were confirmed by RIBA-2 test. Anti-HCV positive pregnant women together with an anti-HCV negative control group, were interviewed by standardised questionnaire to identify "known" or "potential" risk factors for HCV infection. The anti-HCV prevalence was 0.7% (40/5,672), higher than that observed among blood donors in the same geographical area (0.2%). The RIBA-2 assay was positive in 60% (24/40) of cases, indeterminate in 10% (4/40) and negative in 30% (12/40). As for "known" risk factors, considering RIBA-2 positivity, intravenous drug use was by far the main risk factor for HCV infection, resulting in a significantly higher risk than in the control group (50% versus 5.9% [O. R. 15.8, CI 5.4-45.5]). The ten RIBA-2 positive women without histories of transfusion or IV drug use had a significantly higher frequency of "sexual contacts with IV drug users" compared to controls (50% vs 4.9% [O. R. 19.0, CI 3.6-94.0]). In conclusion, our study provides evidence that in our geographical area the anti-HCV antibody prevalence is higher in pregnant women than in blood donors and that IV drug use and sexual contacts with IV drug users represent the most important risk factors for HCV infection among young women in North Italy.

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