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J Hepatol. 2006 Oct;45(4):607-16. Epub 2006 Jul 25.

Transmission of hepatitis C virus by blood transfusions and other medical procedures: a global review.

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  • 1Department of Transfusion Medicine and Hematology, Ospedale Alessandro Manzoni, Lecco, Italy Postgraduate School of Gastroenterology, University of Milan, Italy. <>


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of chronic blood-borne infection and chronic liver disease. The global epidemic of HCV infection emerged in the second half of the 20th century, and several lines of evidence indicate that it was primarily triggered and fed iatrogenically by the increasing use of parenteral therapies and blood transfusion. In developed countries, the rapid improvement of healthcare conditions and the introduction of anti-HCV screening for blood donors have led to a sharp decrease in the incidence of iatrogenic hepatitis C, but the epidemic continues to spread in developing countries, where the virus is still transmitted through unscreened blood transfusions and non-sterile injections. This article reviews the published literature concerning HCV transmission through blood transfusions and other unsafe medical procedures. Given the substantial difference in current disease transmission patterns between the northern and southern hemispheres, the situation in developed and developing countries is separately analysed.

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