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Screening for hepatitis C among HIV positive patients at Mulago Hospital in Uganda

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Background: In industrialized countries with more resources, it is recommended that HIV infected patients should be screened for hepatitis C virus (HCV) on entry into the health care system. Implementation of these guidelines in a country like Uganda with limited resources requires some modification after taking into account the prevailing circumstances. These include the prevalence of HCV in HIV positive patients and the cost of HCV testing. Objective: The objective of the study was to estimate the prevalence of HCV in HIV positive patients. Methods: This was a cross sectional study among HIV positive outpatients in Mulago hospital. HCV screening was done using anti-HCV Enzyme Immuno Assay (Roche Diagnostics) Results: Between October 2003 and February 2004, one hundred and twenty two HIV positive patients were enrolled into the study with a mean age of 33.9 years. There were more females 81 (66.4%) than males. Only 4 patients had anti-HCV, giving an estimated HCV prevalence of 3.3%. Conclusion: In view of the low HCV prevalence found in our study and similar studies and considering the high cost of HCV screening, routine HCV testing cannot be recommended among all HIV positive patients in our health care settings with limited resources. We recommend that HCV screening be limited to investigating HIV positive patients with features suggestive of liver disease in order to identify HCV as a possible cause. African Health Sciences 2009; 9(3): 143-146

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