Background and Aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the common cause of liver disease among thalassemic patients who receive recurrent blood transfusion. Recent studies in Iran has shown a high prevalance of HCV among Iranian thalassemic patients, inspite of low HCV seroprevalence in general population. In this study we investigated the prevalence of new cases of hepatitis C and its risk factor in the group of thalassemia major patients.
Methods: This study was carried out in thalassemic ward of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, southern Iran in year 2003. Cases were interviewed using a standard questionnaire including demographic, clinical history and HCV related risk behaviors. Then 3 blood samples were investigated by serum marker of anti-HCV antiboby (anti-HCV Ab) via Eliza-3th method in times zero, 45 days and after 6 months follow-up.
Results: The mean age of patients were 15.2 |¡ |6.3 (1-36 years old) and the proportion of male to female 1 to 1. The rate of HCV antibody positivity in the first sample was 25%. All of the second and third blood samples were negative. There was significant correlation between age and being positive for anti-HCV Ab (P < 0.001) and also between being positive anti-HCV Ab and the time they began to receive blood transfusion. The patients who started blood transfusion before 1996 (the year we started screening program for blood donors in Blood Bank in Iran) had 12.5 times more risk for being positive for anti-HCV Ab (odds ratio = 12.5).
Conclusions: Our results approved the effect of screening program for blood donors in blood transfusion centers.
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