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Keywords:

  • chronic hepatitis C virus;
  • cirrhosis;
  • fibrosis;
  • genotype 4;
  • pegylated interferon;
  • sustained virological response

Summary.  Hepatitis C virus genotype 4 (HCV-4) infection is progressing in Europe, where epidemiology and sustained virological response (SVR) seem to be different than in the Middle East. We analysed epidemiological features and SVR rates in a retrospective study of 1532 HCV-4-infected patients, including 1056 patients infected in France, 227 immigrants infected in Egypt and 249 in sub-Saharan Africa. SVR rates were assessed in 242 naive patients of the 1532, who received peginterferon plus ribavirin for 48 weeks. HCV subtype 4a or 4d was the most common among patients infected in France, where the predominant route of transmission was intravenous drug abuse. The 4a subtype was largely predominant (93%) among patients infected in Egypt, where transmission was mostly because of parenteral treatment for schistosomiasis. More than seven different subtypes and no predominant route of infection were found in patients infected in sub-Saharan Africa. Liver fibrosis was significantly less severe in patients infected in France and Africa than in patients infected in Egypt. SVR rates were higher in patients infected in Egypt, compared with those infected in France or Africa (54.9%, 40.3% and 32.4%, respectively, P < 0.05). An overall better response was observed in patients infected with the 4a subtype. In multivariate analysis, two factors were associated independently with SVR: the Egyptian origin of transmission and the absence of severe fibrosis. In conclusion, the distribution of HCV-4 subtypes varies with the geographical origin of transmission and affects the SVR following antiviral treatment.