1.1 Background of the study
Infections due to Hepatitis C viruses (HCV) is significant health problems around the globe. Worldwide, viral hepatitis is the commonest cause of hepatic dysfunction in pregnancy. In our study, the frequency of Hepatitis C virus infections among pregnant women attending antenatal care in Bahir Dar health institutions was 0.6%. This was similar to the study which was conducted from Sudan, (0.6%). All of the HCV positive pregnant women were among secondary trimesters and orthodox religion followers (Elsheikh, Daak, Elsheikh, Karsany, Adam, 2017).
In contrast the prevalence of HCV in our finding was less than the studies conducted from Nigeria (3.6%) (Ugbebor, Aigbirior, Osazuwa, Enabudoso, Zabayo, Ewing, 2011), Cameron (1.9%) (6.4%) (Njouom, Pasquier, Ayouba, Sandres-Saune, Mfoupouendoun, Lobe, Tene, Thonnon, Izopet, Nerrienet, 2013), Egypt (Kamal, Zahran, Mohamad, Badary, Michael, Agban, Nafesa and Abdel, 2012) and Gondar, Ethiopia (1.3%) (Tiruneh, 2016). These discrepancies might not be disparate with the fact that some of the studies were not from the same risk group and some of the them were done with the detection of both hepatitis C virus RNA and anti HCV antibody, which was Anti HCV antibody detection only in case of our study. This may loss the acute infections before antibody production (Kesson, 2015). None of the expected risk factors (history of blood transfusion, sugery, dental manipulations, tattooing circumcision etc. and other socio-demographic factors) for sero-positivity of HCV had been identified in the study. This might be due to the small sample size we used. Moreover in similar studies reported at Nigeria and Sudan, these expected risk factors were not associated for the positivity of HCV. The explanations for such observations need to be addressed in the future (Ugbebor, Aigbirior, Osazuwa, Enabudoso, Zabayo, Ewing, 2011).
Onwere, Kamanu, Chigbu, Okoro, Ndukwe, Akwuruoha, Ndukwe and Onwere, (2011) and found out that twelve (1.5%) of the 820 antenatal clinic attendees were found to be HCV positive and asymptomatic. History of having received blood transfusion in the past was associated with HCV seropositivity (p<0.05). Maternal age, parity, educational level attained, marital status. Intravenous drug use, tattooing or jaundice in the past and Human Immunodeficiency Virus positivity did not show any association with HCV seropositivity. Onwere, Kamanu, Chigbu, Okoro, Ndukwe, Akwuruoha, Ndukwe and Onwere, (2011) concluded that HCV seropositive pregnant women in the study were asymptomatic and showed no association with the medical and sociodemographic characteristics examined except with a history of having received blood transfusion in the past. This strengthens the case for routine HCV screening in pregnancy in our setting.