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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2001 May;13(5):477-81.

Prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in the general population of northern Spain.

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Digestive Section, Hospital Valle del Nalón, Spain.



To estimate the prevalence of hepatitis C in a population of northern Spain and describe (i) the risk factors associated with infection and (ii) the distribution of genotypes.


Randomized cross-sectional study.


A random sample of 1,170 people participated in the study. Sociodemographic data were obtained. Antibodies against hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes were determined.


Nineteen of 1,170 (1.6%) subjects were anti-HCV positive (95% CI 1.0-2.6%). In 12 cases (63%), viraemia was present, and the predominant genotype was 1 b (80%). Anti-HCV positive subjects were older than anti-HCV negative subjects (55.8 +/- 15.3 v. 44.8 +/- 20.9; P = 0.02). Two peaks of maximum frequency were found (in the fourth decade and in those over 60 years). Parenteral drug addiction predominates among those of the fourth decade, while transfusion and surgery predominate in people over 60 years. Three (16%) subjects knew they were carriers of HCV. Only three variables remained significant in the multivariate model (illegal drug use, P< 0.0001; previous hepatitis, P< 0.0001; and age, P< 0.02).


Our study emphasizes the need to develop health policies that can cope with the foreseeable increases in the problems associated with HCV infection in the near future.

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