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To better understand the spread of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, we studied the association of HCV infection with similarly transmissible hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and with hepatitis A virus (HAV) infection, which is supposed to be related to a nosocomial transmission of HCV. This was done by studying the presence or absence of antibodies to these viruses, as well as hepatitis B surface antigen, in a population of 1,398 inhabitants with abnormal liver function tests or history of liver disease and/or blood transfusion. This group was drawn from a group of 7,905 examinees screened for liver disease in 26 districts of Okayama prefecture, Japan. The prevalence of antibody-positive cases increased with age for those viruses. Small but significantly increased odds ratios were obtained among anti-HCV antibodies (HCVAb), anti-hepatitis B core antibodies (HBcAb) and anti-hepatitis A antibodies (HAVAb). After adjusting odds ratios by logistic regression analysis, a significant association was present only between HCVAb and HBcAb. The distribution of age-adjusted prevalences (AAP) of HCVAb in 26 districts was significantly wider than those of HBcAb or HAVAb. The district-based AAP of HCVAb, but not of HBcAb and HAVAb, correlated significantly with the district-based prevalence of infectious hepatitis having a tendency of chronicity reported in 1953-1955. Adjusted odds ratios calculated by logistic regression analysis of the virus markers showed that HCVAb was significantly associated with a past history of blood transfusion. Thus, the spread of HCV infection is speculated to have been triggered by blood transfusion, particularly from paid donors initially, followed by transmission by nosocomial or close person-to-person contact.
route of infection
Acta Medica Okayama
Okayama University Medical School
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