Declining prevalence and increasing awareness of HCV infection in Italy: A population-based survey in five metropolitan areas

Angelo Andriulli, Tommaso Stroffolini, Andrea Mariano, Maria Rosa Valvano, Ignazio Grattagliano, Antonio Massimo Ippolito, Adriano Grossi, Giuseppina Brancaccio, Christian Coco, Maurizio Russello, Antonina Smedile, Elisa Petrini, Silvia Martini, Giovanni Battista Gaeta, Mario Rizzetto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Data on the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in Italy are outdated and usually derived from studying residents in small towns. Methods: To assess prevalence of and risk factors for HCV infection among Italian residents in 5 metropolitan areas, subjects ≥20 years of age were randomly selected from the list of the general practitioners' registers in 2015. Anti-HCV was tested by a salivary test; HCV-RNA, HCV genotypes, and ALT were determined in positive individuals. Logistic regression analysis evaluated independent risk factors for HCV. Results: Of the 4907 enrolled subjects, 112 (2.3%) tested anti-HCV positive. The prevalence of HCV increased with age, from 0.2% in subjects born after the year 1984, to 4.2% in those born before the year 1935 (P < 0.01). The birth-cohort prevalence peaked (7.0%) in elderly. Serum HCV-RNA was detected in 1.7% of the whole population. Nearly 80% of anti-HCV subjects were aware of their status. Age > 70 years, low education level, past use of glass syringes, blood transfusion, intravenous drug use, and cohabitation with an anti-HCV positive subject predicted the HCV positivity. Interpretation: In metropolitan areas in Italy, HCV is prevalent in elderly, reflecting a cohort effect determined by modalities of viral transmission no longer operative. The impact of the infection will further diminish in the years to come due to the natural depletion of the reservoir of the virus. This age pattern and the high proportion of subjects aware of their status do not warrant a policy of screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-84
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Internal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


  • Epidemiology
  • HCV
  • HCV infection
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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