Epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection in seven European Union countries: a critical analysis of the literature. HENCORE Group. (Hepatitis C European Network for Co-operative Research.
Hepatitis C is now recognized as the most common infection causing chronic liver disease in the European population. Our aim was to assess the prevalence of the antibody to hepatitis C virus (HCV), and the incidence of HCV seroconversion in the general population and the main risk groups, namely intravenous drug users, haemodialysis and transfused patients, in seven countries of the European Union, by carrying out a critical analysis of the literature. Data sources used were the Medline database and a manual search using the key words: hepatitis C, prevalence, incidence, transmission, risk factors and epidemiology. Articles published between January 1990 and March 1997 were reviewed. Articles were reviewed according to a critical analysis method regarding title, type of article, study design, period and population, tests, results and their consistency with data. The tests performed were mainly second- or third-generation serological tests. The average prevalence rate in blood donors was 1%, with a north-south gradient ranging from 0.04% to 2%. Prevalence varied from 20% to 30% in haemodialysis patients. The incidence in transfused patients was less than 1% after 1991. The prevalence in intravenous drug users was about 80%. Multicentre studies conducted in larger samples are needed to obtain more accurate and reliable results, in particular. However, the epidemiological studies available allowed us to assess the magnitude of HCV infection in Europe.
Touzet, S; Kraemer, L; Colin, C; Pradat, P; Lanoir, D; Bailly, F; Coppola, RC; Sauleda, S; Thursz, MR; Tillmann, H; Alberti, A; Braconier, JH; Esteban, JI; Hadziyannis, SJ; Manns, MP; Saracco, G; Thomas, HC; Trépo, C
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