Prevalence of hepatitis B and hepatitis C Virus infections among male to female (MFT) transgenders in Rawalpindi (Pakistan)

Hashaam Akhtar, Yasmeen Badshah, Samar Akhtar, Faheem Hassan, Muhammad Faisal, Najam us Sahar Sadaf Zaidi, Ishtiaq Qadri


Background: Transgenders are the individuals, who due to certain psychological or physical requirement mismatch with their naturally received genders. Among transgender types, male to female (MTF) transgenders are highly prevalent in Indo-Pak and are feared to be at high risk for sexually transmitted viral (human immunodeficiency virus HIV, hepatitis B virus HBV, hepatitis C virus HCV and Epstein Barr virus EBV) and bacterial diseases (gonorrhea, syphilis, campylobacter, chancroid, shigella, granuloma inguinale and chlamydia). This sensitive issue, therefore, requires more attention of researchers, policy-makers, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Pakistan.

Methods: Prevalence of HCV and HBV infection was studied in 306 transgender males with a median age of 29 years (range 15-64years) living in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Molecular techniques such as ELISA and Nested PCR were performed to confirm the presence of the both viruses in each sample of subjects.  Furthermore, logistic regression and chi-square test were used for statistical analysis.

Results: This study showed that occurrence of HCV infection was predominant among the studied group; whereas presence of HBV was insignificant and was not included for statistical analysis. PCR confirmed that 25.5% of the test group was HCV positive, with the highest percentage (83.33 %) of HCV positive among the individuals who claimed safe sex practices and had knowledge about the medical condition of their partners. 34.61% of the transgender men who shave outside their homes, were found to be HCV positive.

Conclusion: In light of these statistics, ignoring this threat could be dangerous not only for the transgender community but also for the society, in general.

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