Background: Hepatitis C is an infectious disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) resulting to a chronic Hepatitis. Chronic HCV infection constitutes a serious health challenge in places where prevalence is substantial. In Nigeria, there is a high risk because donor blood is not routinely screened for HCV. Patients with sickle cell anaemia (SCA) are considered a subset of the population at higher risk of acquiring the virus, due to their frequent needs for transfusion of blood and its products. However, the magnitude of HCV infection has not been adequately measured in our general population and specific data on HCV in SCA patients are scanty, hence a prospective case controlled study to determine the prevalence of HCV antibodies in transfused SCA patients attending the sickle cell anaemia clinic in the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), Ilorin was taken. Objective: To determine the prevalence of Hepatitis C virus antibodies among transfused children with SCA in Ilorin. Subjects and Method: Eighty two transfused SCA children aged 6 months to 14 years were recruited consecutively from February 2008 to January 2009 while eighty four non transfused SCA children of the same age range recruited over the same period served as controls. Hepatitis C virus antibody screening was done using a second generation ELISA method. Results: The overall prevalence of HCV antibody was 3.0%, while it was 3.7% and 2.4% in the transfused and non transfused SCA patients respectively (χ2 = 0.23, p = 0.68). The patients were also comparable across the social class when subcategorized into high and low social class (χ2 = 0.37, p = 1.00 (subjects), χ2 = 0.42, p = 1.00 (controls). Conclusion: The prevalence of Hepatitis C virus anti-
bodies in transfused SCA patients is low. The difference in prevalence between transfused and nontransfused SCA patient was not statistically significant. This was cautiously interpreted due to the hospital based premise of the work. Therefore, Hepatitis C virus antibody acquisition might be from sources other than transfusion of unscreened blood.
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