Hepatitis B and C cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Little is known about the existence of hepatitis B and C among high risk groups of the Pakistani population. The present study was conducted to determine the prevalence of Hepatitis B and C in high risk groups, their comparison and the possible mode of acquisition by obtaining the history of exposure to known risk factors.
This cross sectional study was carried out in Karachi, from January 2007 to June 2008.
HBsAg and Anti HCV screening was carried out in blood samples collected from four vulnerable or at risk groups which included injecting drug users (IDUs), prisoners, security personnel and health care workers (HCWs). Demographic information was recorded and the possible mode of acquisition was assessed by detailed interview. Logistic regression analysis was conducted using the STATA software.
We screened 4202 subjects, of these, 681 individuals were reactive either with hepatitis B or C. One hundred and thirty three (3.17%) were hepatitis B reactive and 548 (13.0%) were diagnosed with hepatitis C. After adjusting for age, security personnel, prisoners and IV drug users were 5, 3 and 6 times more likely to be hepatitis B reactive respectively as compared to the health care workers. IDUs were 46 times more likely to be hepatitis C positive compared with health care workers.
The prevalence of hepatitis B and C was considerably higher in IDUs, prisoners and security personnel compared to HCWs group. Hepatitis C is more prevalent than hepatitis B in all these risk groups. Prevalence of hepatitis C increased with the increase in age. Use of unsterilized syringes, used syringes, body piercing and illicit sexual relations were found to be important associated risk factors for higher prevalence of Hepatitis B and C in these groups.