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Med Clin (Barc). 2006 Jun 17;127(3):113-7.

[Hepatitis C in Spain].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Hepatología, Institut de Malalties Digestives i Metabòliques, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, España.


Spain has a medium endemicity of hepatitic C infection among central Europe countries and Italy. Prevalence of anti-HCV varies among regions and it ranges from 1.6 to 2.6%, which means that there may be between 480,000 and 760,000 people infected with hepatitis C virus in Spain. The prevalence is very low in people under 20 years of age and it increases from age 30 years. Prisoners and drug addicts have the highest infectious rates, between 40 and 98%. Some populations of immigrants also have a high prevalence of HCV infection, especially people from Asia and sub-Saharan countries, whereas people from Latin America have rates lower than those in the autochtones population. Spanish people with chronic hepatitis C were mainly infected via blood transfusions, IV drug use, or during some medical and surgical hospitalization. The reduction in the use of IV drugs and the programs of needle sharing, as well as the eradication of post-transfusional hepatitis, have led to a progressive reduction in the incidence of new infections (from 6.8 per 100,000 in-habitants in 1997 to 2.3 in 2003). Preliminary data suggest that an important rate of new hepatitis C cases owe to nosocomial transmission. Transmission is almost exclusively vertical in children. In spite of a two-third reduction of incident cases of hepatitis C in Spain in last few years, it is foreseeable that the number of patients with advanced HCV liver disease attended in the health-care system will increase in forthcoming years. This is due to the fact that many, still undiagnosed patients will be likely recognized for the first time as a result of some complication of the disease. All efforts to increase the screening of hidden cases of hepatitis C in primary health-care centers, allowing a prompt treatment before an advanced stage, will have a beneficial impact both in economic and social terms.

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