HCV and HBV present a great challenge in the management of beta thalassemia patients.
The present study aimed to determine the prevalence of both HBV and HCV in multi-transfused-dependent beta thalassemia patients in northern West Bank, Palestine, using zero-molecular markers.
A serum sample from 139 multi-transfused beta thalassemia patients was tested for HBV and HCV markers including HBsAg, anti-HBc, anti-HBs, HBV-DNA, and anti-HCV and HCV-RNA. Demographic data and selected clinical parameters were collected using a questionnaire and from the patients' medical files.
Results and Conclusion
The patients' mean (±SD) age was 18.1 years (±10.6). The overall prevalence of HCV was 10% (14/139), which is 50 times higher than the average Palestinian population (0.2%). Of these, 3 were positive for anti-HCV alone, 7 positives for HCV-RNA alone, and 4 positives for both anti-HCV and PCR-RNA. On the other hand, a low prevalence of HBV was detected at a level of 0.7% (1/139). Only one patient had HCV-HBV coinfection. Twenty-five patients (19%) were positive for anti-HBc, while 99 (71%) were immune with the anti-HBs level above 10 IU/mL. Anti-HBc was insignificantly high (P=0.07) in HCV-positive cases. In conclusion, the prevalence of HCV among β-thalassemia patients is considered high compared to the normal population. Determination of HCV prevalence should be based on detecting both HCV-RNA and anti-HCV. On the contrary, HBV showed a low prevalence. A follow-up schedule and administration of a booster dose of HBV vaccine are strongly recommended for beta thalassemia patients whose anti-HBs level is <10 IU/ml.