Anti-hepatitis C virus-positive blood donors: are women any different?

J L Narciso-Schiavon, L L Schiavon, R J Carvalho-Filho, F C F Freire, J R Cardoso, J O Bordin, A E B Silva, M L G Ferraz
Transfusion Medicine 2008, 18 (3): 175-83
We sought to assess clinical, epidemiological, biochemical, serological and histological characteristics of anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive female blood donors and compare them with men. As women are frequently the minority among blood donors, studies evaluating this population usually reflect characteristics of male gender. This retrospective study included 380 blood donors with confirmed positive anti-HCV. The mean age was 36.9 +/- 11.3 years and 33.2% were women. Compared with men, female donors showed higher prevalence of prior transfusion of blood products (P = 0.031) and lower prevalence of intravenous drug use (P = 0.001) and alcohol abuse (P < 0.001). Women exhibited lower medians of alanine aminotransferase (P < 0.001) and gamma-glutamyltransferase (P < 0.001). They also showed higher platelet count (P < 0.001) and prothrombin activity (P = 0.049), and a lower frequency of antibody against core antigen of hepatitis B virus (anti-HBc) positivity (P = 0.032). A higher proportion of spontaneous viral clearance (P = 0.001) and a lower frequency of viraemia (P < 0.001) were observed among women. On liver biopsy, women had lower prevalence of fibrosis stage > or = 2. Multivariate analysis identified age (OR = 1.050, 95% CI: 1.019-1.081, P = 0.001) and anti-HBc positivity (OR = 2.184, 95% CI: 1.010-4.722, P = 0.047) as independent predictors of significant fibrosis. Female blood donors presented higher prevalence of spontaneous viral clearance as well as biochemical and histological evidence of less advanced liver disease. These findings could be because of intrinsic characteristics of female gender or secondary to associated factors such as younger age or anti-HBc positivity.

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