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J Viral Hepat. 2019 May;26(5):529-540. doi: 10.1111/jvh.13062. Epub 2019 Feb 5.

HCV genotype 6 prevalence, spontaneous clearance and diversity among elderly members of the Li ethnic minority in Baisha County, China.

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Institute of Clinical Blood Transfusion, Guangzhou Blood Center, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.
Department of Clinical Laboratory, People's Hospital of Baisha Li Autonomous County, Hainan, China.
MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, Glasgow, UK.
School of Laboratory Medicine and Biotechnology, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China.


The epidemiology of hepatitis C virus varies widely across geographical regions and ethnic groups. Our previous study showed that 6 strains isolated from Baisha County, Hainan Island, China, were all new genotype 6 (gt6) subtypes which differed significantly from subtypes of other regions. In the current study, we conducted a comprehensive epidemiological survey of HCV in the Li ethnic group, native to Baisha County. Anti-HCV antibodies were detected by 2 independent ELISAs in all participants, and positive results confirmed by the recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) and HCV RNA viral loads were measured. Univariate chi-square test and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to determine the risk factors for HCV infection and spontaneous clearance rates. Indeterminate RIBA results were excluded or included in analyses; consequently, findings were expressed as a range. Direct sequencing of partial regions within NS5B and E1 was employed for genotyping. Among 1682 participants, 117 to 153 were anti-HCV positive (7.0%-9.1%), with 42.7%-52.6% confirmed to have cleared infection. Anti-HCV positivity was associated with older age (≥60 years) (OR = 0.02, 95% CI 0.01-0.05, P < 0.01) and surgery (OR = 2.75, 95% CI 1.36-5.57, P < 0.01), with no significant difference found between the HCV infection group and the HCV spontaneous clearance group. The gt6 subtype distribution characteristics of Baisha County were unique, complex and diverse. The sequences did not cluster with known gt6 subtypes but formed 4 Baisha community-specific groups. HCV infection in members of the Li minority ethnic group is characterized by high prevalence rates in the elderly, high spontaneous clearance rates and broad gt6 diversity.


Li minority; genotype; hepatitis C; risk factors; seroprevalence


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