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J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2002 Jan;16(1):43-6.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infections in dermatological patients in west Sicily: a seroepidemiological study.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of Palermo, Italy.



To evaluate the relative frequencies and molecular epidemiological features of viral hepatitis types B and C in dermatological patients in our geographical area.


We determined the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies and the hepatitis B virus surface antigen (HBsAg) in a cohort of 677 dermatological patients admitted to the Department of Dermatology of Palermo. An 8-mL blood sample was taken from all subjects. The following assays were used: HBsAg, anti-HB core (antigen) (anti-HBc), anti-HB surface (antigen) (anti-HBs), anti-HB early (antigen) (anti-Hbe) and anti-HCV antibodies using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


One hundred and eighty-nine (27.91%) of the 677 dermatological patients were positive for anti-HBc, anti-HBs, anti-HBe and/or anti-HCV antibodies. In particular 22% (149 patients) were anti-HBc, anti-HBs or anti-HBe positive, reflecting exposure to HBV, and six patients (0.88%) were chronic carriers of HBsAg; 2.36% of the dermatological patients (16 persons) were anti-HCV positive. Tests showed that 24 subjects (3.52%) were infected with hepatitis B or C. The peaks in the age bands were in the 55-80-year-old age groups.


This study confirms a high rate of HBV and HCV exposure with chronic carriers in our dermatological patients. We assume that the high prevalence of HCV and HBV in dermatological patients is more likely to be age related than to represent a true and direct association with dermatological diseases in general. Definite conclusions will only be available after large epidemiological studies that can establish or refute an aetiological and pathogenetic role of HBV and HCV in certain skin diseases associated with liver infection.

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