Prevalence of Transfusion Transmissible Infections in Beta-Thalassemia Major Patients in Pakistan: A Systematic Review

Biomedical Sciences/Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infectious Diseases, Georgetown University, Washington, USA. Internal Medicine, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore, USA. Internal Medicine, Baptist Medical Center South, Montgomery, USA. Hematology and Oncology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, USA. Hematology and Oncology, Armed Force Bone Marrow Transplant Center/National Institute of Blood and Marrow Transplant, Rawalpindi, PAK. Internal Medicine, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Baltimore, USA. Internal Medicine, MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore, USA. Section of Digestive Diseases, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, USA.

Cureus. 2020;12(8):e10070
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PICO Summary

Population

Beta-Thalassemia major (TM) patients in Pakistan (14 studies, n = 3786).

Intervention

Systematic review to identify studies related to transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs) and transfusion-related infections in Pakistan.

Comparison

Outcome

Analysis of the included studies showed the seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) of 3.13% and hepatitis C virus (HCV) of 26%. Two studies reported HIV seroprevalence of 0% and 0.5%. The rate of seropositivity for HBV and HCV was directly related to the number of transfusions, higher ferritin levels, and older age groups. There was an increase in the HCV rate with the increasing age of patients. A comparison of HCV in healthy donors vs. thalassemia patients showed a rate of 1.9% vs. 13.1% for TM patients. On average, a single TM patient is exposed to at least 17 different donors annually, requiring 1-2 transfusions every month.
Abstract
β-thalassemia major (TM) is one of the most prevalent inherited hemoglobinopathies in Pakistan. It has one of the highest prevalence of transfusion-dependent TM patients globally, with an estimated greater than 100,000 active cases. Blood transfusions (BT) are essential in the management of severe TM; it is critical to have a safe BT to reduce the risk of transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs). Frequent blood transfusions in these patients increase their risk of acquiring TTIs compared to the general population. We performed a systematic literature search to identify studies related to the TTIs and transfusion-related infections in Pakistan from January 1, 2010, to January 31, 2020. The search was conducted using PubMed and PakMediNet, with initial search retrieved 981 studies. Among these, 166 studies met the inclusion criteria, and only 14 studies met the final criteria for qualitative synthesis. Analysis of 14 studies (n = 3786) showed the seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) of 3.13% (0.66% to 7.4%) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) of 26% (5.56% to 68.2%). There were only two studies that reported HIV seroprevalence of 0% and 0.5% (n = 6). The rate of seropositivity for HBV and HCV was directly related to the number of transfusions, higher ferritin levels, and older age groups. There was an increase in the HCV rate with the increasing age of patients. Thalassemia patients, who were older than ten years of age, had an HCV rate of 22% compared to only 8.4% in patients younger than ten years of age. A comparison of HCV in healthy donors vs. thalassemia patients showed a rate of 1.9% vs. 13.1% for TM patients. The majority of the patients were males (51% to 88%). The seroprevalence of TTIs was higher in males than in females (73.4% vs. 26.6%). On average, a single TM patient is exposed to at least 17 different donors annually, requiring 1-2 transfusions every month. Our study highlights that the prevalence of transfusion-transmitted infections, especially HCV, is alarmingly higher (26%) in the TM population than in the general population. There is limited data regarding the prevalence of HIV, syphilis, and malaria in this population. This is mainly due to a fragmented system of blood transfusion, weak regulations, and lower rates of voluntary blood donations. These findings warrant better health measures to improve the blood donation system and specialized care for TM patients.
Study details
Study Design : Systematic Review
Language : eng
Credits : Bibliographic data from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine