Hepatitis C virus infection in a community in the Nile Delta: Risk factors for seropositivity



The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in a rural village in the Nile Delta with a high prevalence of antibodies to HCV (anti-HCV). One half of the village households were systematically selected, tested for anti-HCV, and interviewed: 973 of 3,999 (24.3%) subjects were anti-HCV-positive (reflecting prior HCV infection but not necessarily current liver disease), with nearly equal prevalence among males and females. Anti-HCV prevalence increased sharply with age among both males and females, from 9.3% in those 20 years of age and younger to >50% in those older than 35, suggesting a cohort effect with reduced transmission in recent years. Multivariate regression was used to estimate independent effects of risk factors on seropositivity. Among those over 20 years of age, the following risk factors were significantly associated with seropositivity: age (P < .001); male gender (odds ratio [OR] = 2.5, 95% CI = 1.3-4.7); marriage (OR = 4.1, 2.4-6.9); anti-schistosomiasis injection treatment (OR = 2.0, 1.3-2.9); blood transfusion (OR = 1.8, 1.1-2.9), invasive medical procedure (surgery, catheterization, endoscopy, and/or dialysis) (OR = 1.5, 1.1-1.9); receipt of injections from “informal” health care provider (OR = 1.3, 1.0-1.6); and cesarean section or abortion (OR = 1.4, 1.0-1.9). Exposures not significantly related to anti-HCV positivity in adults included: history of, or active infection with, Schistosoma mansoni, sutures or abscess drainage, goza smoking in a group, and shaving by community barbers. Among those 20 years old or younger, no risk factors were clearly associated with anti-HCV positivity; however, circumcision for boys by informal health care providers was marginally associated with anti-HCV (OR = 1.7, 1.0-3.0). Prevention programs focused primarily on culturally influenced risks in rural Egyptian communities are being implemented and evaluated.