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High frequency of antibodies to syphilis and HIV in hepatitis C virus positive blood donors may reflect its sexual transmission in this region
  1. A Mittal
  1. Institute of Pathology (ICMR), Post Box No 4909, Safdarjung Hospital Campus, New Delhi-110029, India; amittal_iop{at}yahoo.com

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    Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a great cause of concern because of the risk of chronicity and other sequelae. Studies on the prevalence behaviour pattern and sexual transmission of HCV infection among the population are required for formulating strategies to control spread of HCV.1 The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of HCV in voluntary blood donors as they are known to be a high risk population2,3 for transmission of these infectious agents. Comparison was made between the presence of syphilis, HBV, and HIV infection in HCV negative and positive blood donors to confirm these as markers or predictors of HIV infection in a high risk population which may reflect the transmission of HCV by a sexual route.

    Voluntary blood donors (n = 3905) from New Delhi, India, were randomly recruited between August 2001 to March 2002 and were unpaid. These donors were screened for antibodies to VDRL, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and HIV using previously validated second generation ELISA kits. Data were analysed using the χ2 test. Odds ratio (OR) was used to measure strength of an association.

    The antibodies to HCV were detected in 61 (1.56%), HBsAg in 109 (2.79%), VDRL in 132 (3.38%), and HIV in 40 (1.02%) donors. In HCV negative blood donors, VDRL was detected in 129 (3.35%), HBsAg in 106 (2.75%) and HIV in 31 (0.8%) donors, while in HCV positive blood donors HIV positivity increased significantly to nine (14.75%) OR (21.2) and VDRL and HBsAg reactivity increased to three (4.91%) (OR 1.82 and 1.48 respectively). Thus HIV, VDRL, and HBsAg reactivity was found 21.2, 1.48, and 1.82 times more often respectively in HCV positive blood donors (table 1).

    In conclusion, the high frequency of antibodies to syphilis and HIV in HCV positive blood donors may confirm this as a marker or predictor of HIV infection in a high risk population and may also reflect the risk of transmission of HCV by the sexual route, which seems to vary with the population studied.

    Table 1

    Percentage positivity of HBsAg, VDRL, and HIV in HCV positive and negative blood donors

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