Volume 53, Issue 6
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645



The prevalence of hepatitis C antibodies (anti-HCV) was investigated in 1,378 central Brazilian children, students, and street youths (homeless adolescents without family links or adolescents working in poorly paid activities). Sera were tested with a second generation enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and positive samples were retested by a confirmatory assay (line immunoassay). All children attending day care centers were anti-HCV negative. Only one (0.2%) adolescent was positive in the student group. However, higher positivity was found in street youths; four (1.0%) living at home and three (3.0%) living in the streets had anti-HCV antibodies. Among these, the prevalence of anti-HCV increased significantly with age from 0% in the 9–12-year-old group to 6.9% in the 17–20-year-old group. Risk factors including blood transfusion, tattooing, intravenous drug use, and sexual intercourse with multiple partners were significantly associated with the presence of anti-HCV in street youths. These results indicate that apparently healthy children and adolescents attending day care centers or primary schools in central Brazil have a low exposure to HCV infection, but street youths in the same area are at risk for infection with this virus.


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