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BMC Public Health. 2001;1:17. Epub 2001 Dec 21.

Prevalence of hepatitis B and C markers in high-risk hospitalised patients in Crete: a five-year observational study.

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Dept of Gastroenterology, University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete, Greece.



So far the prevalence of viral hepatitis infection in hospitalized patients has not been extensively studied. Therefore we conducted the present five-year observational study to evaluate the prevalence of HBV and HCV infection in high-risk hospitalized patients of Crete, the largest Greek island, Due to the homogeneous population, epidemiological studies can be accurately done.


The study was carried out in two out of four District General Hospitals, and in the University Hospital of the island. Markers for HBV and HCV were studied and statistically evaluated according to age, sex and geographical area, in a well-defined hospitalized population.


The total prevalence of HBsAg and anti-HCV in the three prefectures during the five-year study is 2.66% and 4.75% respectively. Overall the relative risks were higher in males than females for each hepatitis marker (p < 0.001). Higher prevalence of HBcAb was found in the 41-60 years age group for both sexes (males 36.17%, females 27.38%). Peak HBsAg prevalence was found in the age group of 21-40 and 41-60 years for males (5.4%) and females (3.09%) respectively. Anti-HCV prevalence increases with age reaching the highest prevalence in the age group of 41-60 years for males (7.19%) and in the 61-90 years age group for females (7.16%). For both sexes significant differences between the three locations were identified. For HBsAg a higher prevalence in Heraklion (3.96%) compared to Chania (2.30%, males: p < 0.0001, females: p < 0.05) and Rethymnon (1.45%, males: p < 0.01, females: p < 0.0001) was detected. For HCV a significantly higher prevalence in Heraklion (6.54%) compared to Chania (2.39%, males: p < 0.001, females: p < 0.001) but not in Rethymnon (5.15%, NS). A lower prevalence rate of HBcAb in Heraklion compared to Chania (20.07% versus 23.05%, males: p < 0.001, females: p < 0.001) was found.


These results were possibly overestimated, but nevertheless reflect the situation of the general population within the island as shown by our previous publications in other study groups. Moreover they contribute to the mapping of viral hepatitis prevalence in a geographical area of Southern Europe and may be helpful in planning public health interventional strategies.

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