Prevalence of hepatitis C virus antibodies and hepatitis C virus-RNA in an urban population



Several studies had been carried out on anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence in populations with blood exposure risks and in blood donors. New tests are now available which allow the in- vestigation to extend to other parameters such as antibody type and HCV-RNA.

In this study the prevalence of anti-HCV c100-3 and the associated epidemiological, clinical, and virological markers were evaluated in subjects from an urban population located in central Italy. In positive cases the time persistence of HCV- RNA and anti-HCV antibody pattern was studied. For this purpose, sera from 1,484 randomly sampled individuals, aged 30–69 years, collected in 1985 and stored at −80°C were retrospectively tested. The prevalence was 0.87% (i.e., 13 anti-HCV c100-3 positive cases). A significant association was observed with raised alanine transaminase (ALT) levels (P < 0.001). Paired serum samples from 11 out of the 13 subjects collected in 1985 and 1991 were tested by nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using primers from the 5′ non-coding region and by 4-RIBA. Concordant RIBA patterns between 1985 and 1991 were observed in the majority of positive paired sera (7/9) as well as for HCV-RNA (619). HCV-RNA was present in sera simultaneously positive to both types of antibody or to anti-cl00-3 or anti-c22 alone. A wide spectrum of viral and antibody patterns in anti-HCV c100-3 positive sera was ob- served in this urban population and persisted for at least 6 years. © 1992 Witey-Liss, Inc. © 1992 Wiley-Liss, Inc.