Epidemiology of hepatitis C in central Portugal. Prevalence of anti-HCV in the population of the Coimbra District.

Arsénio Santos, Armando Carvalho, Duarte Bento, Rosa Sá, Jorge Tomáz, Víctor Rodrigues, Luísa Pais, Armando Porto


Anti-hepatitis C virus antibody (anti-HCV) screening was performed in a sample of the adult population of the Coimbra District. 657 persons were included (267 male and 390 female, mean age of 42.7 + 13.1 years), aleatorily chosen from four characteristic regions. Anti-HCV was detected using an ELISA-2 test and all positive sera were also tested with RIBA-2. General prevalence of anti-HCV was 0.46%. All positive patients live in urban areas and presented risk factors for HCV infection. Anti-HCV was found in 33.3% of intravenous drug abusers, in 1.8% of transfused individuals, in 1.33% of alcoholics (higher than 80 g/d alcohol ingestion), in 1% of cases with history of surgical operations, and in 0.65% of persons who lived in risk regions for hepatitis B. We conclude that anti-HCV prevalence is low in our region. We think it is important to perform other studies on larger samples of general population and to study risk groups.

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