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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Hepatitis B and C: prevalence and risk factors associated with seropositivity among children in Karachi, Pakistan

Wasim Jafri*, Nadim Jafri, Javed Yakoob, Muhammad Islam, Syed Farhan Ali Tirmizi, Tazeen Jafar, Saeed Akhtar, Saeed Hamid, Hasnain Ali Shah and Sheikh Qamaruddin Nizami

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2006, 6:101  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-6-101

Published: 23 June 2006

Abstract

Background

Infections with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) can lead to chronic liver disease and hepato-cellular carcinoma (HCC). This cross-sectional study estimated the prevalence and identified risk factors associated with Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and HCV antibody (anti-HCV) sero-positivity among children 1 to 15 years of age.

Methods

The study targeted the low to middle socioeconomic population that comprises 80% to 85% of the population. Consent was obtained from parents of the eligible children before administering questionnaire and collected a blood sample for anti-HCV and HBsAg serology.

Results

3533 children were screened for HBsAg and anti-HCV. 1826 (52 %) were males. 65 (1.8 %) were positive for HBsAg, male to female ratio 38:27; mean age 10 ± 4 years. 55 (1.6 %) were positive for anti-HCV with a mean age 9 ± 4 years. 3 (0.11%) boys were positive for both HBsAg and anti-HCV. The overall infection rate was 3.3 % in the studied population. Hepatitis BsAg was more prevalent in subjects who received therapeutic injections 45 (69.2%) positive [Odd Ratio OR = 2.2; 95% Confidence interval CI: 1.3–3.6] inspite of using new needle and syringe 44 (67.7%) positive [OR = 2.2; 95% CI: 1.3–3.7] and vaccination in the government healthcare facilities 46 (70.7 %) positive with [OR = 3.0; 95% CI: 1.4–6.4]. These factors were not significant in anti-HCV positive cases.

Conclusion

There is a need to educate general population regarding HBV and HCV infection and risks associated with inappropriate therapeutic injections. Hepatitis B vaccine should be administered to all newborns regardless of maternal HBsAg status.