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Acta Gastroenterol Belg. 2002 Apr-Jun;65(2):83-6.

Hepatitis C virus: the burden of the disease.

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Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatopancreatology, Hôpital Erasme, 808 route de Lennik, B-1070 Bruxelles, Belgique.


Chronic hepatitis C infection affects approximately 3% of the world population and is responsible for a large proportion of patients with cirrhosis, end-stage liver diseases, hepatocellular carcinoma and for those who are candidates for liver transplantation or die of liver-related complications. The health care burden of this infection, whose epidemic peaked in the 1980s, is expected to significantly increase in the next 15 years in the absence of an organized national strategy. On the other hand, hepatitis C infection can be easily diagnosed with third generation enzyme immunoassay and indications for molecular biology-based assay are well defined. Composite scores and non-invasive markers of fibrosis may in the future replace liver biopsy which is still recommended in the presence of chronically elevated transaminases and indications for antiviral treatment.

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