Controversies in the Screening of Hepatitis C Virus Among First-Degree Family Members of the Affected Patients


Parivash Davoodian 1 , * , Hamidreza Mahboobi 1

1 Infectious and Tropical Diseases Research Center, Hormozgan Health Institute, Hormozgan University of Medical Sciences, Bandar Abbas, Iran

How to Cite: Davoodian P, Mahboobi H. Controversies in the Screening of Hepatitis C Virus Among First-Degree Family Members of the Affected Patients, Hepat Mon. 2018 ; 18(3):e45233. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.45233.


Hepatitis Monthly: 18 (3); e45233
Published Online: February 5, 2017
Article Type: Letter
Received: December 31, 2016
Revised: January 23, 2017
Accepted: January 31, 2017

Dear Editor,

We have read a recently published paper in Hepatitis monthly, entitled “Recommendations for the Clinical Management of Hepatitis C in Iran: A Consensus-Based National Guideline” (1). We have also presented the paper in our weekly journal club in the department of internal medicine. Providing specific recommendations based on our national setting makes it possible to apply the recommendations by all health care providers.

Despite recent advances in diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis C, this disease is still a major health issue in the world. Hepatitis C is also a major health concern in Hormozgan province. In this province, the most common HCV genotypes are 1a, 3a, and 1b, in sequence (2).

Availability of effective medications for the treatment of hepatitis C provides the possibility for its eradication. However, an important issue in disease elimination is finding patients. Several authors have mentioned the importance of finding patients as a fundamental step for elimination of hepatitis C (3, 4).

In the national guideline for hepatitis C, some groups are recommended to be screened for hepatitis C. This recommendation is based on the data available from previous studies. The recommended individuals for HCV screening include individuals with history of blood transfusion before the time of HCV blood screening in Iran, IV drug users, those with war wound history, prisoners, hemophilic, thalassemic and hemodialysis patients, organ transplant receivers, sex workers, individuals with tattooing and phlebotomy, and infants born to HCV infected mothers. The list of individuals who are at high risk of HCV infection and need for screening are similar in Hormozgan province to the list of individuals who are recommended to be screened in national guidelines for hepatitis C (5, 6).

There is no recommendation for the screening of first-degree family members of HCV patients in national guidelines for hepatitis C. Similarly, there is no recommendation for HCV screening in this population in a recent guideline by WHO (7).

In our practice, we have encountered several HCV positive individuals with none of the above-mentioned risk factors who reported HCV infected individuals in their first-degree family members in Bandar Abbas. Similarly, Moezzi et al. have reported higher prevalence of hepatitis C in the first-degree family members of HCV patients in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari province (8). It is likely that some differences in social relationships and some behavioral factors are important in our observation in Bandar Abbas. Some authors have also pointed to the possibility of genetic predisposition to HCV infection for explanation of these findings (9).

Our information on the prevalence of HCV among the first-degree family members of the HCV infected individuals is inadequate. Also, the prevalence may be variable in different areas based on the extent of high-risk behaviors and quality of social relationships. Therefore, we recommend screening of the first-degree family members of HCV infected patients. Also, high quality studies in this regard are recommended.


  • 1.

    Alavian SM, Hajarizadeh B, Bagheri Lankarani K, Sharafi H, Ebrahimi Daryani N, Merat S, et al. Recommendations for the Clinical Management of Hepatitis C in Iran: A Consensus-Based National Guideline. Hepat Mon. 2016;16(8). ee40959. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.guideline. [PubMed: 27799966].

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    Mousavi SF, Moosavy SH, Alavian SM, Eghbali H, Mahboobi H. Distribution of hepatitis C virus genotypes among patients with hepatitis C virus infection in hormozgan, iran. Hepat Mon. 2013;13(12). ee14324. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.14324. [PubMed: 24403914].

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    Hesamizadeh K, Sharafi H, Rezaee-Zavareh MS, Behnava B, Alavian SM. Next Steps Toward Eradication of Hepatitis C in the Era of Direct Acting Antivirals. Hepat Mon. 2016;16(4). ee37089. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.37089. [PubMed: 27275164].

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    Makiani MJ, Davoodian P, Abedi F, Hossini M, Zare S, Rahimi S, et al. AIDS and hepatitis B and C high risk behaviors among 15 to 45 years old individuals in Bandar Abbas (Iran) in 2012. Electron Physician. 2014;6(3):884-9. doi: 10.14661/2014.883-889. [PubMed: 25763163].

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    WHO Guidelines Approved by the Guidelines Review Committee . Guidelines for the Screening Care and Treatment of Persons with Chronic Hepatitis C Infection: Updated Version. Geneva; 2016.

  • 8.

    Moezzi M, Imani R, Karimi A, Pourheidar B. Hepatitis C Seroprevalence and Risk Factors in Adult Population of Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari Province of Iran in 2013. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(10):LC13-7. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2015/14986.6694. [PubMed: 26557546].

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    Plancoulaine S, Mohamed MK, Arafa N, Bakr I, Rekacewicz C, Tregouet DA, et al. Dissection of familial correlations in hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroprevalence suggests intrafamilial viral transmission and genetic predisposition to infection. Gut. 2008;57(9):1268-74. doi: 10.1136/gut.2007.140681. [PubMed: 18480169].

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