Hepatitis B and C Infections Among Pediatric Patients with Sickle Cell Disease at a Tertiary Hospital in Nigeria

Background: The frequent use of blood products for patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) may put them at risk of being infected with hepatitis virus infections, especially if such blood products are not properly screened. Hepatitis B and C infections (HBV and HCV, respectively) may result in cirrhosis and liver cell cancer. Objectives: This study determined the prevalence of HBV and HCV infections among pediatric patients with sickle cell disease in comparison with matched controls at the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospitals (EKSUTH), Ado-Ekiti. Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study that comprised of 116 patients with SCD and their aged and sex-matched controls who were referred to the pediatric clinics at EKSUTH. The hemoglobin (Hb) genotypes of the participants were confirmed by Hb electrophoresis and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), Biorad, USA Variant II, using the Beta thalassemia short program. Moreover, HBV and HCV antigens were assessed by the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay method (Kits were manufactured by Biotech Laboratories USA). Results: The mean ages of the patients with SCD and controls were 8.35 ± 4.50 and 8.92 ± 3.25 years, respectively. The seroprevalence of HBV infection among the children with sickle cell disease and controls was 1% each (P =1.00). The seroprevalence of hepatitis C virus infection was 0% among the two groups. Most (98.3%) of the patients with SCD and controls were fully vaccinated against HBV infection. The two children (100%) that were seropositive for hepatitis B were never vaccinated against HBV infection. Conclusions: The seroprevalence of HBV infection is low among patients with SCD and controls. This may be due to the protective effect of high hepatitis B vaccination rate and high quality of care among our study population.