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Abstract

Previous Western studies showed a consistent and marked reduction in health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in patients chronically infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, these studies were conducted on patients whose knowledge of their serological status may have affected their HRQOL. This HRQOL survey conducted in the Egyptian rural population provides a unique opportunity to clarify this issue among a population whose serological status is unknown. HRQOL was assessed by an Arabic translation of the Short-Form 12, and a visual analog scale of the relative severity of one's health status. HCV chronic infection was defined by positive tests for anti-HCV antibody and HCV-RNA. HRQOL was compared according to HCV chronic infection status in linear mixed models adjusted for potential confounding factors, such as age, sex, education, and health care–related risk factors, and adjusted for interviewer as a random effect. One hundred forty-six Egyptians chronically infected with HCV had similar Short-Form 12 and visual analog scale scores, compared with 1,140 uninfected controls from the same rural community. In individuals chronically infected with HCV, serum aminotransferase levels did not correlate with HRQOL. In conclusion, this study did not find a significant reduction of HRQOL in patients chronically infected with HCV compared with uninfected, contemporaneous controls. This may be explained in part by a lower morbidity amongst patients chronically infected with HCV in rural Egypt and a higher morbidity amongst uninfected controls as compared with those of Western studies, as well as a lack of awareness of hepatitis C serological status. (HEPATOLOGY 2004;40:1434–1441.)