Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an important contributor to chronic morbidity and mortality in developing countries. The study’s objective was to determine the genotype distribution and risk factors associated with the transmission of HCV infections in pediatric patients. Rapid screening and confirmation by the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) were used to analyze 585 pediatric blood specimens hospitalized and visited the outpatient department of the largest tertiary care hospital in Pakistan. Detection and genotyping of HCV RNA were performed using a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Demographic data and a history of risk factors were gathered through a survey questionnaire. HCV RNA was detected in 323 (72.4%) cases which showed viral load ranging from Log10 IU/mL < 3 to > 6 IU/mL. HCV genotype 3a was detected in 256 (79.3%) cases while type 3b and 1a was observed in 36 (11.1%) and 31 (9.6%) patients, respectively. HCV positivity was significantly associated with the cases from rural areas [p = 0.005; odds ratio (OR) 1.65; 95% CI 1.16-2.23] and also significantly associated with low-income group [p < 0.001; OR 5.75; 95% CI 3.90-8.40]. The primary risk factors associated with HCV transmission in children were family history (p = 0.002), blood transfusion (p = 0.03), surgical procedures (p = 0.02), and history of injections (p = 0.05). HCV genotype 3a is the most common genotype in children. The main risk factors for HCV transmission in children are blood transfusion, surgical procedures, and injection practices by informal health care providers.
Hepatitis C virus, Genotype 3, Risk factors, HCV transmission, Children
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