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Eur J Intern Med. 2007 Jan;18(1):48-55.

Risk factors associated with HCV infection in semi-rural areas of central Greece.

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Department of Medicine, Research Laboratory of Internal Medicine, Medical School, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) appears to be endemic in most parts of the world, but there is considerable geographic variation. In order to assess the geographic distribution of HCV in Thessaly, in central Greece, we conducted a retrospective study in HCV-infected patients attending the Academic Liver Unit of Thessaly University from 1999 to 2003. We also investigated whether variation among regions could be attributed to differences in risk factors.


We evaluated the records of 309 HCV patients whose origin and/or residence was in Thessaly. To identify risk factors that were independently associated with the place of birth and/or residence, adjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated by logistic regression analysis. We also studied the medical records of 150 HCV-negative patients from the same areas in order to evaluate whether there are differences in risk factors reported by HCV-positive and HCV-negative patients.


We found three municipalities with a high HCV frequency. The use of non-disposable, multiple-use glass syringes for medical purposes in the past was the only potential risk factor more frequently identified in these areas than in other places (OR=2.3; p<0.05). This risk factor was significantly (p<0.001) associated with older age of the infected patients.


This study shows that the spread of HCV in the three regions may have occurred several years ago as a result of the use of multiple-use glass syringes. Differences in prevalence rates among different age groups, as well as among different areas, indicate the need for extensive studies to determine HCV epidemiology and to develop appropriate prevention programs.


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