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Molecular epidemiology and viral load of HCV in different regions of Punjab, Pakistan

Suliman Qadir Afridi1*, Muhammad Muddassir Ali2, Furqan Awan3, Muhammad Nauman Zahid1, Irfan Qadir Afridi4, Sara Qadir Afridi4 and Tahir Yaqub1

Author Affiliations

1 Quality Operations Laboratory, UVAS, Lahore 54000, Pakistan

2 Institute of biochemistry and Biotechnology, UVAS, Lahore 54000, Pakistan

3 Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, UVAS, Lahore 54000, Pakistan

4 Ideal Laboratories, Lahore 54000, Pakistan

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Virology Journal 2014, 11:24  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-11-24

Published: 10 February 2014



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is highly infectious pathogen which is responsible for causing Hepatitis around 200 million individuals worldwide. In Pakistan, 4.7% of HCV prevalence has been reported and HCV genotype 3a has been found to be the major source of infection in Pakistan but still there is lack of information on distribution of HCV genotypes and viral load in various geographical regions of Pakistan. Therefore, current study was designed to determine distribution of HCV genotypes as well viral load in different areas of Punjab province of Pakistan.


A total of 995 serum samples were taken from those individuals in which antibodies against HCV were detected through ELISA, from different regions of Punjab i.e. Lahore 317(31.85%), Faisalabad 70(7.03%), Gujranwala 129(12.96%), Gujrat 106(10.65%), Sialkot 94(9.44%), Sargodha 60(6.03%), Mandibaha-ud-din 135(13.56%), Jhang 86(8.64%). Qualitative PCR was performed to determine viral load and genotyping was performed using Nested PCR. Chi-square test was used to determine the age and sex-wise prevalence of HCV. Out of 995 samples, 888 samples were found positive for HCV RNA. In all regions, genotype 3a showed highest prevalence (82.81%) followed by genotype 1 (3.41%), mixed genotypes (2.41%), genotype 2 (0.50%), genotype 5 (0.1%) and unclassified genotypes (10.75%). Viral load in 29.5% patients infected with genotype 3a was less than 600,000 IU/mL, while it was between 600,000-800,000 IU/mL in 27.9% patients and 25.22% patients had more than 800,000 IU/mL viral load.


HCV genotype 3a is the most prevalent genotype in various regions of Punjab. Viral load of HCV patients in these different regions of Punjab are reported for the first time. Moreover, based upon these results the Patients having viral load below 800,000 IU/mL would be expected to show better response of anti-HCV therapy.

Hepatitis C virus; Genotype 3a; Pakistan; Viral load