PREVENTION OF HEPATITIS c INFECTION IN eGYPT
Reducing Transmission by Reducing Exposure
Hepatitis C in Egypt
Egypt has the largest epidemic of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the world. The recently released Egyptian Demographic Health Survey [EDHS]* tested a representative sample of the entire country for HCV antibody. The sample included both urban and rural populations and included all 27 governorates of Egypt. Over 11,000 individuals were tested. The overall prevalence (percentage of people) positive for antibody to HCV was 14.7%.
Hepatitis C virus in Egypt compared to other countries in the world is shown below in the graph.
The currect population in Egypt is about 78 to 80 million. 14.7% of this popuation (0.147 X 78 million) is 11,466,000 persons who have been infected with this virus. This number is an underestimate becasue it does not include the number of people who have been infected that are under 15 years of age or over 60 years of age. Not everyone remains infected but EDHS reported that 9.8% continue to have HCV RNA. That means almost 10% of the total population are infected and are infectious to other people. That is 7.8 million people with chronic active HCV infection. This also is an underestimate becasue it does not include the number of people who have been infected that are under 15 years of age or over 60 years of age that are chronically infected. The issue of treatment for those that develop HCV related liver disease is essentially a medical care crisis for the country.
Transmission of HCV from person to person in Egypt is of course continuing. We have use computer models to estimate how many people in Egypt are becoming infected each year based on the data from EDHS. See Figure 1 that shows how the percentage (prevalence) of those with antibodies to HCV incease with age. Using this information our models estimate an over all 6/1000 new infections each year. In terms of absolute numbers of people in Egypt getting infected this over 500,000 individuals. 70,000 of them are children. This is a public health emergency.
Hepatitis C transmission
HCV is transmitted from one infected person to another uninfected person by blood from the infected person. This means that an uninfected person has to be EXPOSED to blood from an infected person. There are many ways this exposure can occur. The most common exposure to HCV infection in Egypt is from formal and informal medical and dental care. For example, injections of all kinds, blood tests or when blood is taken by syringe or by a lancet. A lancet is a small very sharp blade used to stick a finger for example to get blood for testing blood type. There are many proceedures and treatments that are percutaneous (means through the skin) or cause bleeding. If the person doing this is not using sterile equipment or materials or may be has not changed their latex gloves, you could be exposed to HCV infection. There is a page on this site that gives more detail on prevention and how you can protect yourself, your family or friends Here
Preventing HCV infection or transmission
*El-Zanaty, Fatma and Ann Way. 2009. Egypt Demographic and Health Survey 2008. Cairo, Egypt: Ministry of Health, El-Zanaty and Associates, and Macro International.