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Acute risk for hepatitis E virus infection among HIV-1-positive pregnant women in central Africa

Mélanie Caron1, Julie Bouscaillou2 and Mirdad Kazanji12*

Author Affiliations

1 Unité de Rétrovirologie, Centre International de Recherches Médicales, Franceville, BP, 769, Gabon

2 Institut Pasteur de Bangui, Réseau International des Instituts Pasteur, Bangui, Central African Republic

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:254  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-254

Published: 31 October 2012

Abstract

Background

Hepatitis E virus (HEV), an enterically transmitted pathogen, is highly endemic in several African countries. Pregnant women are at particularly high risk for acute or severe hepatitis E. In Gabon, a central African country, the prevalence of antibodies to HEV among pregnant women is 14.1%. Recent studies have demonstrated unusual patterns of hepatitis E (chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis) among immunodeficient patients.

Findings

We investigated the prevalence of antibodies to HEV among pregnant women infected with HIV-1 or HTLV-1 in Gabon. Of 243 samples collected, 183 were positive for HIV-1 and 60 for HTLV-1; 16 women (6.6%) had IgG antibodies to HEV. The seroprevalence was higher among HIV-1-infected women (7.1%) than HTLV-1-infected women (5.0%). Moreover, the HIV-1 viral load was significantly increased (p ≤ 0.02) among women with past-HEV exposure (1.3E+05 vs 5.7E+04 copies per ml), whereas no difference was found in HTLV-1 proviral load (9.0E+01 vs 1.1E+03 copies per ml).

Conclusions

These data provide evidence that HIV-1-infected women are at risk for acute or severe infection if they are exposed to HEV during pregnancy, with an increased viral load.

Keywords:
HEV prevalence; HIV-1 and HTLV-1 infections; Pregnant women; Gabon, Central Africa