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Anti-HCV prevalence in the general population of Lithuania

Valentina Liakina, Jonas Valantinas

Med Sci Monit 2012; 18(3): PH28-35

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.882511

Background:    The aim of this study was to assess risk factors for HCV acquisition and prevalence of anti-HCV in the general population of Lithuania.
    Material/Methods:    The study enrolled 1528 randomly selected adults from the 5 biggest cities of Lithuania and its rural regions. Screening for anti-HCV was performed by analysis of peripheral capillary blood with lateral flow immunochromatography and confirmation of positive cases by peripheral venous blood testing with 2-step chemiluminescent microparticle immunoassay.
    Results:    Anti-HCV prevalence in Lithuania is 2.78% and according to the standard European population the adjusted anti-HCV rate is 2.85%. It is more prevalent among men (crude rates: 4.02% males vs. 1.49% females, p=.0030) and this does not depend on age. Vilnius and Kaunas regions have higher infection rates than smaller rural regions (2.92% and 3.01% vs. 2.24%, 0.74% and 1.35%). Nowadays among our population HCV infection spreads mainly via intravenous drug use (OR=42.5, p<.0001). HCV transmission occurs through blood transfusions (OR=6.4, p=.0002), tooth removal (OR=4.1, p=.0048), childbirth (OR=5.0, p=.0224), multiple and a long-term hospitalization (OR=3.0, p=.0064), tattooing (OR=4.4, p=.0013), open traumas (OR=3.7, p=.0009) and intrafamilially (OR=11.3, p=.0002).
    Conclusions:    2.78% of the population is anti-HCV-positive. The anti-HCV rate is higher in Vilnius and Kaunas in comparison with other regions. HCV spreads mainly through intravenous drug use, but intrafamilial and some nosocomial routes are also important. The anti-HCV prevalence did not depend on age. Despite active prevention of nosocomial HCV transmission, the incidence of HCV infection does not decrease due to virus spread mostly in “trusted networks” of intravenous drug users.

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