The importance of HCV on the burden of chronic liver disease in Italy: A multicenter prevalence study of 9,997 cases

Authors


  • The following are the authors from the operative units, grouped by region: Valle d'Aosta: A.Traverso; Piemonte: A. Arrigoni, M. Torchio, P. Garbagnoli, B. Del Mastro, P. Romano, R. Vanni, D. Brusita, P. Meucci; Liguria: G.Cassola, Lombardia: M. Borzio, A. Bellobuono, A. De Bona, T. Re, P. Del Poggio, O. Baisini, A. Colombo, C. Attolini, Sacchini Daria, L. Minoli, V. Gazzaniga, S. Segato; Veneto: M. Oriolo, A. Parlotto, M. Ghersetti, F. Capra; Emilia Romagna: R. Muratori, C. Sama, S. Boccia, G. Verdianelli, A. Praticò, M. Grandi, E. Ventura, F. Cantoni; Toscana: A. Vincenti, A. Nerli; Marche: L. Galeazzi; Umbria: A. Solinas; Lazio: M. Paroli, G.M.De Sanctis, S. Sereno, C. Clementi, U. Visco Comandino, A.I.Gallo; Abruzzo: D. Festi; Molise: G. Sabusco; Campania: F. Morisco, A. Liberti, G. Borgia, F. Scarpellino, M. Persico, C. Sagnelli, C. Coppola, L. Caserta, A. Elia, G. De Vita, A. Lanzotti, L. Pizzolante, V. Messina; Puglia: G. Fiore, E. Agostinacchio, T. Santantonio, M. Mazzola, F. Vinelli, A. Campagna, S. Cataldini, I. Monelli; Basilicata: M. Lascaro; Calabria: N. Polimeri, P.L. Furgiuele, M. Ferraro; Sicilia: T. Prestileo, A. Alessandri, M. Russello, P. Bellissima, G. Orifici, G. Pisani; Sardegna: S. Angioni, M. Lai, M. Spanneda.

Abstract

Knowledge of the current epidemiology of chronic liver disease in Italy is mostly obsolete and fragmentary for the lack of up-to-date consistent data. In 2001, a 6-month prevalence study was undertaken in 79 hospitals to assess the characteristics of chronic liver disease in Italy. Both prevalent and incident cases were enrolled. A total of 9,997 patients were recruited, of whom 939 (9.4%) had normal liver biochemistry, 6,210 (62.1%) had chronic hepatitis, 1,940 (19.4%) had liver cirrhosis, and 341 (3.4%) had hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In 567 patients (5.7%) the diagnosis was not established. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) was found in 69.9% of the patients and was the only etiological factor in 56.3% of all the patients. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was present in the serum of 13.4% of the cases (in 10% it was the only etiological factor). A history of alcohol abuse was found in 23% of the cases (9.4% without viral infection). The prevalence of HCV-related cases was significantly lower in incident than in prevalent cases (44.9% vs. 59.9%, P < 0.0001), while the proportion of patients with alcohol abuse was much higher in incident than in prevalent cases (18.1% vs. 6.6%, P < 0.0001). These findings indicate that nearly one quarter of patients with chronic liver diseases in Italy have a severe disease such as liver cirrhosis and HCC represents a not negligible burden for the national health system. Hepatitis B fell in importance as an etiological factor. Hepatitis C is the important pathogenic factor for chronic liver disease in Italy. However, a comparison between the prevalent and incident cases suggests that in future HCV infection will also play a progressively decreasing role, in part as a consequence of treatment. J. Med. Virol. 75:522–527, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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