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J Epidemiol Community Health. 2010 Oct;64(10):843-8. doi: 10.1136/jech.2009.087965. Epub 2009 Aug 25.

Intrafamilial transmission of hepatitis C virus in Italy: a systematic review.

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Institute of Hygiene, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission is mainly due to parenteral exposure; however, in absence of such risk factor, there are reports of intrafamilial spread of HCV and observational studies suggest an increased risk for households of infected subjects. The aim of our study was to systematically review and meta-analyse studies about HCV prevalence among households of HCV patients in Italy.


PubMed and Embase were searched to identify Italian studies about HCV intrafamilial transmission. Keywords used were: 'HCV', 'Hepatitis C', 'intrafamilial', 'family' and 'Italy'. Selected studies were reviewed to assess the quality and meta-analysed using StatsDirect software.


25 studies were selected. The pooled overall prevalence was 9% (95% CI 7.1% to 11.1%). The highest pooled prevalence was found among sexual partners of index cases: 14.7% (95% CI 10.7% to 19.2%) globally and 9.9% (95% CI 3.6% to 18.8%) and 17.6% (95% CI 12.1% to 24%) in northern and central-southern regions, respectively. The meta-analysis of high-quality studies yielded the lowest HCV prevalence.


To be a HCV patient household is a risk factor for HCV and counselling for these households should be provided.

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