Objective: To determine the prevalence of hepatitis B and C viruses, and human immunodeficiency virus infections in women of reproductive age attending a health care System.

Design: Prospective cross-sectional study.

Setting: Public Obstetric Clinic and Service for Pre- and Perinatal Prevention of Infectious Diseases, Rome, Latium Region, Italy.

Subjects: 1142 women attending our centres consecutively for delivery, miscarriage, voluntary Interruption of pregnancy or screening for pre- and perinatal prevention of infectious diseases.

Interventions: Serum samples, collected after informed consent over a period of 2 months, were tested for hepatitis B virus markers (anti-HBc and HBsAg) by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), for antibodies against hepatitis C virus (by ELISA and, if positive, by RIBA) and for human immunodeficiency virus antibodies (by ELISA and, if positive by Western blot).

Results: The seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus was 144% (95% CI Poisson distribution 12.2–16.5) for anti-HBc and 1.6% (95% CI, 0.9–2.5) for HBsAg. Antibodies against hepatitis C virus were detected by ELISA in 2.4% (CI 1.6–3.5) and by first generation RIB A in 0.9% (CI 0.4–1.6). Human immunodeficiency virus seroprevalence was 1.0% (CI 0.5–1.7). No significant differences were observed by age or by reason for attending.

Conclusions: Women attending our centres have a higher prevalence of hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus infection than those observed in our country in larger national surveys of newborn babies, in reproductive-aged women or in other selected low-risk groups such as blood donors. This could be due to the attendance of women at increased risk such as drug addicts. The Information has the additional value of emphasizing the need for adherence by health care personnel, to the recommendations issued for the prevention of occupational infections.