High prevalence of Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been reported among the dialysis patients throughout the world. No serious efforts were taken to investigate HCV in patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD) treatment who are at great increased risk to HCV. HCV genotypes are important in the study of epidemiology, pathogenesis and reaction to antiviral therapy. This study was performed to investigate the prevalence of active HCV infection, HCV genotypes and to assess risk factors associated with HCV genotype infection in HD patients of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well as comparing this prevalence data with past studies in Pakistan.
Polymerase chain reaction was performed for HCV RNA detection and genotyping in 384 HD patients. The data obtained was compared with available past studies from Pakistan.
Anti HCV antibodies were observed in 112 (29.2%), of whom 90 (80.4%) were HCV RNA positive. In rest of the anti HCV negative patients, HCV RNA was detected in 16 (5.9%) patients. The dominant HCV genotypes in HCV infected HD patients were found to be 3a (n = 36), 3b (n = 20), 1a (n = 16), 2a (n = 10), 2b (n = 2), 1b (n = 4), 4a (n = 2), untypeable (n = 10) and mixed (n = 12) genotype.
This study suggesting that i) the prevalence of HCV does not differentiate between past and present infection and continued to be elevated ii) HD patients may be a risk for HCV due to the involvement of multiple routes of infections especially poor blood screening of transfused blood and low standard of dialysis procedures in Pakistan and iii) need to apply infection control practice.