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Clin Nephrol. 2002 May;57(5):371-5.

Decline of high hepatitis C virus prevalence in a hemodialysis unit with no isolation measures during a 6-year follow-up.

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  • 1RTC, Monte Grande, Argentina.



It has been recently suggested that isolation measures may be necessary to avoid hepatitis C virus (HCV) spread in hemodialysis units with a high HCV prevalence. To assess the variation in prevalence and long-term incidence of HCV infection, we studied our hemodialysis patients during a 6-year follow-up period.


We compared anti-HCV prevalence in 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000 according to the anti-HCV status, and we analyzed the seroconversion of anti-HCV. Strict adherence to universal precautions has been fulfilled since 1993 and systematic anti-HCV testing in blood donors has been performed since 1994. No isolation measures were adopted.


In 1994,22 of 53 (41.5%) patients tested positive for anti-HCV; in 1996, 18 of 67 (26.9%); in 1998,9 of 75 (12.0%); and in 2000, 7 of 82 (8.5%) (p < 0.001). In 2000, 7 of 14 (50.0%) patients who had been attending the unit since 1994 and 0 of 68 (0%) who had entered after 1994 were anti-HCV-positive (p = 0.000). Eight of 1 71 (4.7%) patients who entered the unit and 24 of 142 (16.9%) who left it were anti-HCV-positive (p < 0.001). Two patients became anti-HCV-negative. Seroconversion of anti-HCV was observed in 3 patients. The yearly seroconversion rate was 0.5% during the period 1994-1996 (1 of 98 patients at risk), 0.5% during the period 1996-1998 (1 of 91 patients at risk), and 0.4% during the period 1998-2000 (1 of 120 patients at risk).


It was possible to reduce a high HCV prevalence in a hemodialysis unit when a low incidence was achieved without taking isolation measures. All anti-HCV-positive patients in 2000 had been undergoing hemodialysis since 1994.

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