Prevalence of Hepatitis C virus in mothers and their children in Malawi

James M Fox, Robert Newton, Marija Bedaj, Ada Keding, Elizabeth Molyneux, Lucy M Carpenter, Fabiola Martin, Nora Mutalima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVES: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence is poorly mapped in the East African region; with the advent of novel HCV therapies better epidemiological data is required to target the infection. We sought to estimate HCV prevalence in healthy Malawian mothers and assess mother-to-child transmission (MTCT); context is provided by reviewing previously published HCV prevalence data from the region.

METHODS: Using ELISA screening and confirmatory blot, serological testing of 418 healthy Malawian mothers for HCV was performed. To examine MTCT, the children of any positive women were also tested for HCV; all children had malignant disease unrelated to hepatocellular carcinoma. We compared our results to published literature on HCV prevalence in Malawi and its neighbouring countries.

RESULTS: Three of 418 women were HCV reactive by ELISA; two were confirmed positive by immunoblot (0.5%). One child of an HCV infected mother was HCV seropositive. The literature review revealed HCV prevalence ranging from 0 to 7.2% in the region, being highest in Tanzania and specifically for cohorts of in-patients and HIV co-infected people. The overall estimated prevalence of HCV in Malawi was 1.0% (95%CI 0.7-1.4) when all studies were included (including this one), but lower in healthy cohorts alone at 0.3% (95%CI 0.1-1.2).

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study using confirmatory tests to examine HCV prevalence in healthy Malawian mothers; prevalence was low. Future studies need to address the source of infection in healthy women. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)638-642
JournalTropical Medicine & International Health
Issue number5
Early online date6 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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