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Keywords:

  • China;
  • cirrhosis;
  • epidemiology;
  • HPV;
  • IL28B;
  • natural history

Abstract

Background and Aim

Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is relatively frequent in China. This study investigated the clinical, demographic, and viral and host genetic characteristics that may influence disease manifestations and clinical management.

Methods

In this cross-sectional observational study, treatment-naïve Han ethnic adults with recently confirmed chronic HCV infection were enrolled at 28 hospitals across China. HCV genotype and host interleukin 28B (IL28B) genotypes were determined and compared with patient demographic parameters and medical status.

Results

Among the 997 HCV-positive patients analyzed, 56.8% were infected with HCV genotype 1b, followed in prevalence by genotypes 2, 3, and 6, with substantial regional variation. Overall, 84.1% of patients were IL28B genotype CC (rs12979860), with little regional variation. Cirrhosis was reported in 10.1% of patients and was significantly associated with hepatitis B virus coinfection, low HCV viral load, low serum alanine aminotransferase, high serum aspartate aminotransferase, diabetes, and high pickled food consumption. Medical procedures were common transmission risk factors; however, lifestyle-associated risk factors, including intravenous drug abuse and tattoos or piercings, were more common in patients with HCV genotype 3 or 6.

Conclusions

Most HCV-infected Han Chinese patients were IL28B genotype CC (rs12979860). HCV genotypes varied by geographic region, and disease characteristics differed according to HCV genotype. Relatively frequent detection of advanced liver disease may reflect limitations on access to antiviral therapy, and suggests that greater awareness of factors that influence HCV-associated disease may help avoid clinical complications and improve patient outcomes.