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J. Viral Hepat. 2018 08;25(8):959-968
Cameroon is thought to have one of the highest prevalences of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the world (4.9% among adults). A marked cohort effect exists in several communities where ≈50% of the elderly are infected. Better assessment of HCV distribution is needed for planning treatment programmes. We tested for HCV antibodies 14 150 capillary blood samples collected during the 2011 Demographic and Health Survey, whose participants were representative of the Cameroonian population aged 15-49 (both genders) and 50-59 years (men only). Historical data on exposure to medical care were collected and factors associated with HCV assessed through logistic regression and geospatial analyses. To estimate prevalence in all persons aged ≥15 years, we used data from the survey for the 15-59 years fraction and modelled a cohort effect for older individuals. The nationwide HCV prevalence was 0.81% for the 15-49 years group, and 2.51% for all individuals aged ≥15 years. Only 0.2% of individuals aged 15-19 were seropositive. Among participants aged 15-44 years, HCV was associated with age, rural residence and, for males, with ritual circumcision. For those aged 45-59 years, HCV was associated with age and access to medical care in the late 1950s. Prevalence of HCV seropositivity in Cameroon is half of previous estimates. Nationwide surveys are essential to rationalize resources allocation. The high prevalence among older cohorts, a colonial legacy, has had little spillover into younger cohorts. HCV-free generations might be attainable in countries not plagued with intravenous drug abuse.