Significant epidemiological changes in chronic hepatitis C infection: results of the nationwide HEPNET-GREECE cohort study

Hippokratia 2011; 15 (1): 26-31

M. Raptopoulou, G. Touloumi, D. Tzourmakliotis, G. Nikolopoulou, M. Dimopoulou, G. Giannoulis, T. Vasiliadis, A. Skoutelis, O. Anagnostou, G. Hatzis, S. Manolakopoulos


Background and Aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important health problem worldwide. The aim of the study is to describe the baseline characteristics and possible epidemiological changes of the patients with chronic HCV infection included in a nationwide Greek study.
Patients and Methods: two thousand eight hundred seventeen (2817) patients, followed-up at 20 hepatology centres throughout Greece between the years 1997 and 2006 were enrolled in the study.
Results: Intravenous drug use (IDU) and history of blood transfusion prior to 1992 was reported in 30.7% and 22.6% of our patients, respectively. In 1865 (66.2%) patients with known genotypes, the distribution for genotype 1, 2, 3 and 4 was 45.1%, 7%, 34% and 13.9% respectively. Genotype 1 was more common in older people, in women (55.9% p<0.001) and patients with transfusion-related hepatitis (61.6% p<0.001). Genotype 3 was more common in younger patients, in men (43% p<0.001) and in IDUs (63.3% p<0.001). A significant reduction of transfusion-related hepatitis C incidence (p<0.001) in conjunction with the proportion of genotype 1 (p<0.001) was observed during the last three decades while an increase in IDU infected patients and genotype 3 was detected.
Conclusions: Our study showed a significant change in HCV genotype distribution and source of HCV infection during the last three decades and under that scope, urgent actions are needed in order to control the spread of HCV infection.