Hepatitis C

M. Colombo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an RNA virus belonging to the Flaviviridae family of which at least six major genotypes are known. HCV infection seems to have a higher prevalence in the southern hemisphere and the Far East, as does hepatitis B virus. Not unexpectedly, HCV has been shown to be the cause of most cases of post-transfusion hepatitis as well as of community-acquired hepatitis. One major point of controversy is the source of infection in community-acquired hepatitis C. Sexually and perinatally transmitted HCV infection appear to play a minor role. HCV is poorly transmitted also through household contacts and accidental needle puncture. Chronic infection with HCV entails a high risk of liver cirrhosis and cancer, even in patients who are completely asymptomatic or have fluctuating elevations of serum ALT. Chronic HCV infection can be successfully treated with alpha interferon. However, sustained disease remission occurs in only a relatively small proportion of patients treated, preferentially in those with short-lasting infections, low viremia or no genotype 1b. The new assays for anti-HCV have helped to virtually eliminate HCV transmission with blood transfusions. A recombinant vaccine, now ready to be tested in volunteers, is expected to halt the spread of the virus among the population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-100
Number of pages7
JournalOspedale Maggiore
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • cirrhosis
  • hepatitis C
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • interferon
  • transfusion-associated hepatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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