• Article

Seroprevalence of hepatitis C virus infection among indigent urban pregnant women in Zimbabwe

OBJECTIVE: To estimate the seroprevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among indigent pregnant women. DESIGN: A serological survey study of indigent pregnant women admitted for labour and delivery. SETTING: Harare Maternity Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe. SUBJECTS: A random sample of 1,607 women, delivering at the hospital during the study period agreed to participate in the research. Serum samples were available for 1,591 women. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Serum samples were tested for the presence of antibodies to HCV using a second generation agglutination assay and a third generation enzyme immuno-assay (EIA). RESULTS: Of the 1,591 women tested 25 (1.6%) were anti-HCV positive (95% confidence interval 1.0% to 2.2%). The frequency of anti-HCV positives was associated with maternal age (p = 0.0202) and maternal syphilis status (p = 0.020). Gravidas aged 25 to 29 years had the highest anti-HCV seroprevalence (3.4%) as compared with gravidas of other age categories (1.0% to 1.5%). Women with serologic evidence of syphilis infection during the index pregnancy had an increased prevalence of anti-HCV as compared with those women without evidence of syphilis infection (7.9% versus 1.4%, p = 0.020). There was some evidence (p = 0.094) that a positive prior history of delivering a stillborn infant was also associated with an increased prevalence of anti-HCV (4.1% vs 1.4%). Other maternal characteristics, including hepatitis B virus carriage status, parity, and whether she had received prenatal care during the index pregnancy were not determinants of maternal anti-HCV status. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, hepatitis C antibody was detected in 1.6% of indigent women delivering at Harare Maternity Hospital. This proportion of anti-HCV positive pregnant women is similar to estimates published for North American and European women. Factors positively associated with maternal seropositivity in our population included maternal age (between 25 to 29 years), prior history of delivering a stillborn infant, and seropositivity for syphilis during the index pregnancy. Given the relatively low seroprevalence of HCV and the fact that risk factors for HCV infection remain largely unknown, more studies are needed to identify high risk populations likely to benefit from HCV screening and treatment programmes


Madzime, S., William, MA., Mohamed, K., October, T., Adem, M., Mudzamiri, S., & Woelk, G. (2000). Seroprevalence of hepatitis C virus infection among indigent urban pregnant women in Zimbabwe. Central African Journal of Medicine, 46(1), 1-4.