• antibody to hepatitis C virus;
  • chronic hepatitis C;
  • hemodialysis;
  • hepatitis C virus


Patients on maintenance hemodialysis (HD) are at increased risk of infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV). A prospective follow-up study on HCV infection from November 1999 to February 2003 was conducted in nine hemodialysis (HD) units in Hiroshima. A total of 2,744 HD patients were surveyed regularly for HCV RNA in serum. The prevalence of HCV RNA decreased from 15.7% (262/1,664) on the first survey to 12.9% (242/1,882) in the last one (P < 0.05). This decrease may be attributed to the inclusion of patients with a lower prevalence of HCV RNA compared to patients leaving dialysis centers (111/1,080 [10.3%] vs. 132/862 [15.3%], P < 0.01). During the 40 months of this study, 16 de novo HCV infections were documented in the nine HD units corresponding to an incidence of 0.33% per year. These cases included eight new HCV infections, three re-infections, and five infections that presumably occured in the window period when tested during the first survey. Our study shows that the annual incidence of de novo HCV infection during HD was 0.33%, and emphasizes the need for frequent serum HCV RNA testing and for stringent disinfection procedures in order to prevent the transmission of HCV in these settings. J. Med. Virol. 76:498–502, 2005. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.