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Keywords:

  • epidemiology;
  • evolution;
  • HCV genotypes;
  • pathogenicity;
  • treatment

Summary.  This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate, during a short period between 2000 and 2001, in a large population of patients with chronic hepatitis C, the epidemiological characteristics of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes in France. Data from 26 referral centres, corresponding to 1769 patients with chronic hepatitis C were collected consecutively during a 6-month period. HCV genotyping in the 5′-non-coding region (NCR) was performed in each center using the line probe assay (LiPA, in 63% of cases), sequencing (25%) or primer-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) (12%). HCV genotypes 1a, 1b, 2, 3, 4, 5, non-subtyped 1 and mixed infection were found in 18, 27, 9, 21, 9, 3, 11 and 1% of our population, respectively. HCV genotype distribution was associated with gender, age, source and duration of infection, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, cirrhosis, alcohol consumption, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection. In multivariate analysis, only the source of infection was the independent factor significantly associated with genotype (P = 0.0001). In conclusion, this study shows a changing pattern of HCV genotypes in France, with i.v. drug abuse as the major risk factor, an increase of genotype 4, and to a lesser extent 1a and 5, and a decrease of genotypes 1b and 2. The modification of the HCV genotype pattern in France in the next 10 years may require new therapeutic strategies, and further survey studies.