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Risk factors for viral hepatitis C infection in Rwanda: results from a nationwide screening program

Abstract

Background The epidemiology and risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Rwanda are not well known; however, this information is crucial to shaping the country’s public health approach to hepatitis C control. Methods A HCV screening campaign was conducted in the general population in 24 districts previously identified to have a high HCV disease burden. At the time of sample collection, sociodemographic information and self-reported risk factors were collected. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regressions were conducted to assess risk factors independently associated with hepatitis C antibodies (HCVAb) seroprevalence. Results Out of a total of 326,263 individuals screened for HCVAb, 22,183 (6.8%) were positive. In multivariate analysis, risk factors identified as statistically associated with HCVAb Seroprevalence include history of traditional operation or scarification (OR = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.05–1.14), presence of viral hepatitis in the family (OR = 1.27, 95% CI: 1.15–1.40), widowed or separated/divorced (OR = 1.36, 95% CI: 1.26–1.47), Southern province (OR = 1.98, 95% CI: 1.88–2.08) and aged 65 years and older (OR = 4.86, 95% CI: 4.62–5.11). Ubudehe category 3 (OR = 0.97, 95% CI: 0.93–1.01) and participants using RAMA (Health insurances for employees of public and private sectors) insurance (OR = 0.76, 95% CI: 0.70–0.85) had lower odds of HCV seroprevalence. Conclusions Our findings provide important information for Rwanda’s strategy on prevention and case-finding. Future prevention interventions should aim to reduce transmission through targeted messaging around traditional healing practices and case-finding targeting individuals with a history of exposure or advanced age.

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