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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2001 May;13(5):507-11.

Prevalence of fibromyalgia, anxiety and depression in chronic hepatitis C virus infection: relationship to RT-PCR status and mode of acquisition.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Rheumatology, Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.



Musculoskeletal complaints, dry eyes, fatigue and anxiety are common symptoms in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but there are few controlled data evaluating this.


To assess the prevalence of rheumatological disease, fatigue and anxiety in different groups of patients with chronic HCV infection.


Seventy-seven patients with HCV were evaluated. Of these, 49 (64%) had been infected via contaminated anti-D immunoglobulin, 25 (33%) were intravenous drug users (IVDUs), and three were transfusion related; 78% were female. Twenty-five age- and sex-matched controls were also evaluated. Assessment was performed by history, physical examination, the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Score (HADS).


Four (5%) patients fulfilled the criteria for fibromyalgia. All were infected via anti-D immunoglobulin, and three were PCR positive. The mean number of tender points in anti-D patients was 5.0 (+/- 4.07) compared with 2.8 (+/- 2.7) in controls (P= 0.028) and 2.5 (+/- 2.2) in IVDUs (P< 0.004). There was no significant difference in the number of tender points between PCR-positive and PCR-negative patients (P= 0.23). Anxiety and depression scores were significantly higher in anti-D patients (P= 0.0001) and IVDUs (P= 0.005) compared with controls. Forty per cent of the HCV patients had a positive Schirmer test. Forty-two per cent of PCR-positive patients had a positive rheumatoid factor (RF, > 1/80).


This study reveals a moderate increase in prevalence of fibromyalgia in HCV patients. The number of tender points was related to mode of acquisition but not to PCR status. Anxiety and depression levels are also increased in HCV patients compared with controls. Prevalence of RF was higher in PCR-positive patients compared with controls and those who had cleared the virus.

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