Hepatitis C infection in an Italian population not selected for risk factors


Giovanni Maggi, FBF hospital, Via Fatebenefratelli 20, 22036 Erba, Italy


Abstract: Aims/Background: This study estimated the prevalence of HCV infection and relationship with viremia in a general population. The inhabitants of Albavilla town were personally invited to participate. Methods: Out of 3997 inhabitants falling within the age range 18–85 years, 2403 (participation rate 60.1%) were examined for transaminases, HCVAb, HCVRNA, genotype and immunoblot assay. The following information was collected: sex, age, blood transfusions, surgery, use of glass syringes, drug addiction, alcohol consumption, tattoos and body mass index. Results: 115 (4.8%) were HCVAb+, the prevalence being 1.2% under 40 years. Transfusion in the past was the only risk factor for HCV infection. Among the HCVAb+ subjects, 71 (61.7%) were HCVRNA+. 40.8% of the HCVAb+/HCVRNA+ group had normal ALT, compared with 68% of those with HCVAb+/HCVRNA-. The HCV genotypes in the 71 HCVRNA+ subjects were: 2a/2c in 58 (81.7%), 40% of them with normal ALT;1b in 11 (15.5%), none with normal ALT; genotype 3 in two (2.8%). Conclusion: The prevalence of HCVAb in this general population was 4.8%. About 3% were HCVRNA positive and of these genotype 2a/ 2c was present in 81.6%.