Micro-elimination of hepatitis C through testing of Egyptian pregnant women presenting at delivery: Implications for screening policies.

Research paper by Aya A Mostafa, Fatma S E FSE Ebeid, Belal B Khaled, Rania H M RHM Ahmed, Manal H MH El-Sayed

Indexed on: 20 Apr '20Published on: 20 Apr '20Published in: Tropical Medicine & International Health


Despite the high burden of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Egypt, screening of pregnant women is not yet universal, making national and global elimination unlikely. This study assessed the proportion of pregnant women who were screened for HCV infection at delivery, the prevalence and risk factors for HCV infection, the associated adverse neonatal outcomes, and the real-life linkage to care of infected women and follow-up of their infants' HCV status and timing of testing. Data were collected from medical records of a retrospective cohort of all pregnant women who were admitted to a university hospital in Cairo for delivery between January and June 2018 (n=6734). HCV antibody-and RNA-positive women and their infants were prospectively followed-up by phone interviews till September 2019. 2155 (32.3%) pregnant women were screened for HCV infection. 19 (0.9%) tested HCV antibody-and RNA-positive. Being ≥30 years old (ORa3.6,95%CI:1.4-9.2;p=0.009), history of abortion (ORa3.5,95%CI:1.2-10.3;p=0.022), and blood transfusion (ORa29.1,95%CI:9.6-88.4;p<0.001) were independent risk factors for infection. Adverse neonatal outcomes did not vary significantly among HCV antibody-positive and-negative women. Only 13 (68.4%) HCV antibody-and RNA-positive women started treatment with direct acting antivirals (DAAs) post-breastfeeding (two completed the treatment course and were cured). Four (21.1%) did not start treatment and two (10.5%) were lost to follow-up. All infants of the 13 HCV antibody-and RNA-positive women who started DAA therapy tested HCV RNA-negative within their first year of life. Extending screening services to all pregnant women and better linkage to care are essential for the national elimination of HCV infection. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.