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Free Content Prevalence and screening costs of hepatitis C virus among Ugandan blood donors

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Summary Background 

Screening donated blood for hepatitis C virus (HCV) is important for HCV prevention and is routinely practiced in North America and Europe. However, in many African countries little is known about HCV prevalence or cost-effectiveness of HCV antibody (anti-HCV) screening. Methods 

We investigated 2592 plasma specimens collected consecutively from blood donors in central Uganda in 1999. Routine screening by the blood bank included human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and syphilis. To assess HCV prevalence and cost-effectiveness of testing, specimens were additionally tested for anti-HCV IgG by enzyme immunosorbent assay (EIA). Specimens repeatedly reactive (RR) on EIA were tested with a recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA). Results 

Overall, 107 (4.1%) specimens were HCV EIA RR. Fifteen EIA RR specimens (0.6%, 95% confidence interval = 0.3–0.9%) were RIBA positive and 47 (1.8%) were RIBA indeterminate. Most (80%) RIBA-positive specimens were non-reactive for HIV, HBsAg, and syphilis. RIBA positivity was not associated with donor age, sex, number of donations, HIV, or HBsAg positivity. Costs of screening donors for anti-HCV by using EIA were estimated at US$782 per potential transfusion-associated HCV infection (exposure to RIBA-positive blood) averted. Conclusions 

Current screening tests for other infections are ineffective in removing HCV-positive donations. Testing costs are considerable; cost-effectiveness of identifying HCV-infected donors will be critical in decision making about HCV screening in Uganda.
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Keywords: Uganda; blood donors; costs; hepatitis C; screening

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1:  CDC-Uganda, Global AIDS Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA 2:  Nakasero Blood Bank, Kampala, Uganda 3:  Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA 4:  Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC, Atlanta, GA, USA

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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