High prevalence of hepatitis C virus in the normal Libyan population.

Original article


Saleh MG, Pereira LM, Tibbs CJ, Ziu M, al-Fituri MO, Williams R, McFarlane IG.

Institute of Liver Studies, King’s College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.

Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 1994 May-Jun;88(3):292-4.


The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in Libya has been investigated by seeking evidence of HCV infection in 266 healthy Libyan subjects (147 females, 119 males; age range 1-78 years), 76 of whom were registered blood donors. None had any history of blood transfusions, surgery, homosexuality, drug misuse or other risk factor for viral hepatitis. Sera from all subjects were tested for anti-HCV antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay against synthetic structural and non-structural HCV peptides from the HCV core, envelope, NS1, NS3/NS4 and NS5 regions. Eighteen (6.8%), all of whom were seronegative for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), were found to be anti-HCV positive (including 5 blood donors). The patterns of reactivity against the individual peptides varied between subjects as follows: core (14 subjects), envelope (11), NS1 (9), NS3/NS4 (10), and NS5 (6). Fourteen of the 18 had elevated serum aminotransferase activities (AST/ALT) but so also did 9 other subjects who were seronegative for both HBsAg and anti-HCV. Twelve of the 18 anti-HCV positive subjects, including 3 of the 5 anti-HCV positive blood donors, had circulating HCV RNA detected by the polymerase chain reaction. HCV RNA was also detected in 3 of the 9 anti-HCV negative cases with elevated AST/ALT. The finding that 21 (7.9%) of the 266 subjects had evidence of HCV infection indicates that there is a very high frequency of ‘community-acquired’ HCV in the normal Libyan population, and this has major implications for blood transfusion in that country.

Keywords: High prevalence of hepatitis C virus in the normal Libyan population.

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