Alfredo Alberti, MD; Franco Noventa, MD; Luisa Benvegnù, MD; Silvia Boccato, MD; Angelo Gatta, MD
The prevalence of significant liver disease in persons with asymptomatic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is unclear.
To determine the prevalence and severity of HCV infection in asymptomatic persons.
Population-based cross-sectional study.
4820 apparently healthy Telecom Italy employees or their relatives who underwent screening for cardiovascular risk factors.
Initial screening for anti-HCV by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay followed by HCV RNA testing by polymerase chain reaction and monitoring of alanine aminotransferase levels in viremic persons (92% of viremic persons also had liver biopsies to assess their METAVIR scores).
116 persons (2.4% [95% CI, 1.97% to 2.84%]) were positive for anti-HCV and 85 (1.76% [CI, 1.39% to 2.14%]) were also viremic. The ALT level was persistently normal in 39 (46%) of viremic patients and elevated in 46 (54%). Significant hepatic histologic abnormalities were detected in 19% (CI, 7.21% to 36.4%) of persons with persistently normal ALT levels and in 61% (CI, 45.4% to 74.9%) of viremic persons who had elevated ALT levels (P < 0.001). The prevalence of HCV infection and number of persons with chronic liver fibrosis increased with age (P = 0.003).
Hepatitis C is histologically active and progressive in up to 40% of asymptomatic persons with HCV infection. The severity of liver disease correlates with abnormal ALT levels and increases with age.
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Alberti A, Noventa F, Benvegnù L, Boccato S, Gatta A. Prevalence of Liver Disease in a Population of Asymptomatic Persons with Hepatitis C Virus Infection. Ann Intern Med. 2002;137:961–964. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-137-12-200212170-00009
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 2002;137(12):961-964.
Gastroenterology/Hepatology, Infectious Disease, Liver Disease.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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