Before the introduction of hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening for blood donors, the risk of acquiring HCV Infection as a result of a transfusion was about 10%. The aim of this study was to assess the frequency and rate of progression to cirrhosis in patients with transfusion-associated chronic HCV infection and identify possibly negative prognostic factors. Of 2477 consecutive patients with clinical or laboratory evidence of liver disease, 392 (16%) were anti-HCV- and HCV-RNA-positive, had anamnestic evidence of a single and precisely dated transfusion event, and showed no other causes of chronic liver disease; 268 (68%) underwent ultrasound-guided liver biopsy and were enrolled in the study. After a mean interval of 18.4 years, 54 patients (20.1%) had cirrhosis, which multivariate analysis showed to be independently associated with the duration of follow-up, age at infection and at the time of liver biopsy, and serum alanine aminotransferase levels at biopsy. The time necessary to have a 50% probability of developing cirrhosis in patients aged 21-30, 31-40, and more than 40 years was 33, 23, and 16 years, respectively. In comparison with those aged 20 years or less at infection, the risk ratio of developing cirrhosis over a period of 30 years for patients aged 21-30 and at least 31 years at infection was, respectively, 4.51 (95% confidence interval, 1.03-19.76) and 12.29 (95% confidence interval, 3.06-49.40). In patients with transfusion-associated chronic hepatitis C, the risk of cirrhosis is related to age at infection and disease activity. Our findings suggest that an aggressive therapeutic approach should be adopted in patients Infected by HCV at an older age to prevent the progression to end-stage liver disease.
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