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Enferm Infecc Microbiol Clin. 2006 Jan;24(1):20-5.

Follow-up of the prevalence of hepatitis C virus genotypes in Spain during a nine-year period (1996-2004).

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Servicio de Microbiología Diagnóstica, Centro Nacional de Microbiología, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain.



Recent data suggest that the prevalence of genotype 4 HCV strains among Spanish carriers is increasing.


To assess changes in the prevalence of HCV genotypes in Spain during the last nine years.


HCV RNA was amplified by the polymerase chain reaction from 3161 serum samples from unselected, anti-HCV-positive individuals, and the HCV genotype was identified by a reverse hybridisation assay (line probe assay, LiPA). Samples came from 17 different regions of Spain and were obtained between January, 1996 and December, 2004.


The overall prevalence of HCV genotypes was: 1b, 41.3%; 1a, 24.1%; 3, 19.6%; 4, 11.6%; 2, 3.1%; and 5, 0.3%. The prevalence of genotypes 1a, 3 and 4 increased significantly among patients born after 1950, and that of genotype 1b decreased among them. These significant differences in regard to age were also observed among patients lacking notified high-risk factors. A main switch-up in prevalence of genotypes 1a and 3 was found when patients born in 1941-1950 were compared with those born in 1951-1960, but the same finding in genotype 4 was delayed to patients born in 1961-1970.


Two separate epidemics of HCV seem to have occurred in Spain during the last 30 years. The former one involved the spread of HCV genotypes 1a and 3. The second was more recent, and involved the spread of genotype 4.

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