The Epidemiology of Hepatitis C Virus Antibody in Yemen

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  • US Naval Medical Research Unit No. 3, Ministry of Health, US Naval Medical Research Institute, Cairo, Egypt

A cross-sectional survey of 348 subjects without evidence of liver disease was conducted to investigate the prevalence and risk factors for hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV) seropositivity in the Yemen Arab Republic. The mean age of study subjects was 28.7 years (range 3–80), and 61% were males. Using commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), 6.0% (95% confidence interval [CI] 3.8–9.1) of subjects were anti-HCV—positive, 13.5% were hepatitis B surface antigen-positive (HBsAg—positive), and 51.4% were positive for at least one serologic marker of prior hepatitis B infection. Nine (2.6%; 95% CI 1.2–4.9) of the 21 ELISA-positive sera were confirmed to be anti-HCV positive by a recombinant immunoblot assay. Anti-HCV seropositivity was significantly associated with age (odds ratio [OR] 2.0 for each 10-year increase in age) and prior surgery (OR 10.1), but was not associated with a history of prior blood transfusion or markers of hepatitis B infection. These preliminary data suggest that hepatitis C may pose a substantial health threat in Yemen.