A nationwide seroepidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection in South Korea

Authors


Correspondence

Sook-Hyang Jeong, M.D., Gumi-dong 300, Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, 463-707

Tel: +82-31-787-7034

Fax: +82-31-787-4052

e-mail: jsh@snubh.org

Abstract

Background & Aims

The aim of this study was to reveal nationwide seroprevalence of HCV infection in South Korea by a large-scale survey.

Methods

From January to December 2009, a total of 291 314 adults underwent health check-up in 29 centres nationwide. The data concerning anti-HCV antibody and biochemical tests were obtained from all participants. Among subjects with positive anti-HCV, such data as HCV RNA, genotypes and treatment detail were additionally analysed.

Results

Using an estimated 2009 population of Korea, the age, sex and area-adjusted anti-HCV positive rate was 0.78%. Anti-HCV prevalence in female patients (0.83%) was higher than that in male patients (0.75%). Gradual increase in anti-HCV positivity was observed, from 0.34% in those aged 20–29 years to 2.31% in those >70 years. The age- and sex-adjusted anti-HCV prevalence varied in different areas, being higher in Busan and Jeonnam (1.53–2.07%), mid-level in Seoul and surrounding districts (0.50–0.61%) and lower in Jeju (0.23%). The comparative analysis of laboratory variables between anti-HCV (+) and anti-HCV (−) group revealed significantly higher levels of alanine aminotransferase and lower levels of serum lipids in anti-HCV (+) group. Among 1 718 anti-HCV positive subjects, serum HCV RNA was measured only in 478 people, of whom 268 (56.1%) patients had detectable HCV RNA in serum. Among 50 patients for whom assessment of response to antiviral therapy was feasible, overall sustained virological response was achieved in 84% of patients.

Conclusion

The prevalence of HCV infection is low in South Korea. Studies to analyse risk factors are warranted to reduce HCV infection.

Ancillary