Premarital screening programmes for haemoglobinopathies, HIV and hepatitis viruses: Review and factors affecting their success

Fahad M. Alswaidi, Sarah J. O'Brien

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    This literature review is a comprehensive summary of premarital (prenuptial) screening programmes for the most prevalent hereditary haemoglobinopathies, namely thalassaemia and sickle cell disease, and the important infections HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and hepatitis viruses B and C (HBV and HCV). It describes the background to premarital screening programmes and their value in countries where these diseases are endemic. The use of premarital screening worldwide is critically evaluated, including recent experiences in Saudi Arabia, followed by discussion of the outcomes of such programmes. Despite its many benefits, premarital testing is not acceptable in some communities for various legal and religious reasons, and other educational and cultural factors may prevent some married couples following the advice given by counsellors. The success of these programmes therefore depends on adequate religious support, government policy, education and counselling. In contrast to premarital screening for haemoglobinopathies, premarital screening for HIV and the hepatitis viruses is still highly controversial, both in terms of ethics and cost-effectiveness. In wealthy countries, premarital hepatitis and HIV testing could become mandatory if at-risk, high-prevalence populations are clearly identified and all ethical issues are adequately addressed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)22-28
    Number of pages6
    JournalJournal of medical screening
    Volume16
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2009

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