Prevalence of hepatitis C virus among healthy donors at a large Teaching Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan: A cause of concern for health policy makers.
Objectives: Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection is life threatening but with the advent of new antiviral agents is potentially curable. Its prevalence among healthy blood donors was estimated in Mayo Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan. The aim of this study was to help in estimating disease burden in addition to early diagnosis of asymptomatic individuals necessitating treatment. Study Design: Retrospective single centre cross-sectional study. Setting: Mayo Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan. Period: January 2016 to December 2017. Material and Methods: Blood donors were tested for Anti-HCV antibodies by qualitative test based on lateral flow immunoassay using commercially made rapid test kits. Results: In 2016 and 2017, a total of 76530 healthy blood donors were screened for anti-HCV antibodies. Out of 76530 donors, 2095 were found to have anti-HCV antibodies constituting cumulative percentage of 2.73%. The seroprevalence was 2.49% in 2016 and reached to 2.97% in 2017. Conclusion: Sero-prevalence of Hepatitis C among healthy blood donors is quite high at 2.73% and has slightly increased in 2017 compared to 2016. This dictates need for continued community awareness for prevention, early detection, and treatment. This study will be helpful for health policy makers to design more effective strategic planning to eradicate Hepatitis C infection.