Studying hepatitis C in Sub-Saharan Africa

We currently have several projects ongoing in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Each project will identify the strains of HCV present in specified populations and will contribute to the capacity to counter hepatitis C in the region.  These projects are also providing PhD training to two research fellows: Lucrece Ahovegbe (Benin/Uganda) and Rajiv Shah (Kenya/Uganda).
In Benin, Malawi and Uganda we are examining HCV diversity in the general populations and also the specific category of healthcare workers (Benin only).  Blood samples have been collected from patients who have previously tested positive to the HCV antibody test.  These samples will be analysed to identify the specific HCV strains infecting the patient.
Lucrece Ahovegbe processing samples
Lucrece Ahovegbe processing samples
HCV strains from Africa are quite different from those found in Europe and the US, and so the treatment response might be different. Those tested positive will be offered treatment and their treatment response rates studied.
We expect this study to help both in the accurate mapping of HCV in Africa and in the identification of the routes of transmission of HCV.
This work is being co-ordinated by Dr Patrick Ogwang (Mbarare University, Uganda), Professor Pontianu Kaleebu (Uganda Virus Research Institute, Uganda), Dr Raimi Kpossou (University of Benin, Benin), Dr Alex Stockdale (Malawi-Liverpool) and Professor Nicolas Kodjoh (University of Benin, Benin).
In Kenya we are investigating HCV diversity among people from coastal Kenya who inject drugs. 
This study will determine the prevalence of resistance against HCV treatments in this population and aims to describe the mechanism of this resistance, so as to assist in modelling treatment modalities. It will describe HCV transmission networks among the target population.
Through this study we aim to develop insights into HCV diversity, antiviral resistance and transmission patterns which will inform targeted approaches towards HCV elimination.  The study will be the first to provide whole genome information for hepatitis C in Kenya.
This work is being co-ordinated by Professor Elijah Songok, University of Nairobi, Kenya and Professor Emma Thomson (CVR)