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The present study was aimed to assess the molecular epidemiology of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) genotypes and viral load (VL) of HCV infected patients. A total of 261 anti-HCV positive patients were enrolled for VL analysis using COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV and Abbott Real Time HCV Genotype II Assay Kit to determine the genotypes. The data demonstrated that 60.15% (n=157) samples were from females and 39.85% (n=104) from male patients. Serum markers such as Bilirubin, SGPT, PT, APTT, and α-fetoproteins were analyzed by commercial kits and Cobas-C 501, Sysmex Ca500 and Cobas-C 601 automatic analyzers as per manufacturer’s guidelines. All patients were above 15 years age and their mean age was 39 years. Male to female ratio was 0.66% (104/157). Age-wise ddistribution revealed that 31-45 years age group comprised majority of the patients, whereas lowest number belonged to age group 61 and above. HCV genotyping data revealed five different genotypes/subtypes. Genotype 3a was most frequent accounting 76.24% (n=199) followed by Genotype 1a (2.29%), 1b (2.68%), 2a (4.98%). Moreover, 13.79% (n=36) samples revealed untypable genotype. Subtype 1b had highest mean VL of 6.84 log10 IU/ml among all other genotypes. The data of serum markers analysis revealed a slight fluctuation but appeared under the normal range. However, Bilirubin was slightly lower in Genotype 1a as compared with other genotypes while elevated α-fetoprotein was found in patients infected with untypable genotypes. In summary, Genotype 3a was predominant genotype throughout Sindh and subtype 1b had highest viral load compared with subtypes 3a and 2a.
Keywords: Genotyping; Hepatitis C; HCV; Prevalence; Serum markers