Sporadic hepatitis C virus infection: a case-control study of transmission routes in a selected hospital sample of the general population in Italy

Comandini, U.V.; Tossini, G.; Longo, M.A.; Ferri, F.; Cuzzi, G.; Noto, P.; Zaccarelli, M.; Visco, G.

Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases 30(1): 11-15


ISSN/ISBN: 0036-5548
PMID: 9670352
DOI: 10.1080/003655498750002231
Accession: 009449160

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A case-control study was performed on 9,175 Italian adult outpatients in 5 hospitals in Rome. The study was carried out to clarify the role of some less investigated risk factors (RF) in the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. All subjects were contacted by interviewers, who completed a questionnaire. Their sera were stored and subsequently tested for both HCV and hepatitis B virus core (HBc) antibodies. 365 subjects, positive for anti-HCV and anti-HBc-negative, and who had denied intravenous drug use (IDU) (cases) were compared with an equal number of suitable random controls negative for anti-HCV and anti-HBc. Gender, age and region of birth and residence were matched. The prevalence of 13 RFs were statistically compared by univariate and multivariate analysis. A positive anti-HCV test was significantly associated, by multivariate analysis with intravenous treatments and minor surgical procedures (both before 1975) (p < 0.001), blood transfusions (before 1991) (p < 0.01), diabetes (p < 0.01), and deliveries in hospital (p < 0.05) (both before 1975). After 1975 (1991 for transfusions), all associations lost their significance. Intra-familial (sexual and non sexual), occupational RFs and dental care were not significantly associated with the presence of anti-HCV. We suggest that non-disposable syringes, commonly used until 1975 in Italy for i.v. treatments, have been the major route for HCV transmission in Italy among non-IDU subjects.