The characteristics of residents with unawareness of hepatitis C virus infection in community

2018 PLoS ONE 13;2 (e0193251)

BACKGROUND: Control of hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) is an increasingly important issue. Enhancing screening coverage is necessary to discover more HCV infected subjects in community. However, a substantial population is unaware of HCV infection that needs more attention. AIM: The aims of this study were to evaluate the status of HCV infected residents in remote villages, to compare characteristics between already known and unaware HCV infection subjects, and to analyze the disease insights. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Screening intervention for liver diseases was conducted in remote villages of Tainan City of southern Taiwan from August 2014 to July 2016. Items of screening examinations included questionnaire, blood sampling for liver tests and viral hepatitis markers (hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-HCV antibody), abdominal sonography survey, and liver stiffness measurement by transient elastography. Quantitation of HCV RNA was measured for residents with positive anti-HCV antibody. RESULTS: A total of 194 (13.5%) out of 1439 participants showed positive for anti-HCV antibody. HCV viremia was detected in 119 (61.3%) residents. Previously unaware HCV infection by questionnaire record was present in 68 (35.1%) of ant-HCV positive residents. By multivariate logistic analysis, unaware HCV infected residents exhibited significantly mild liver fibrosis (OR 0.876, 95% CI 0.782~0.981, p = 0.022), more prevalent of heart diseases (OR 6.082, 95% CI 1.963~18.839, p = 0.002), and less cluster of family history of liver diseases (OR 0.291, 95% CI 0.113~0.750, p = 0.011) when comparing with already known HCV infected residents. Among the 126 already know HCV infected residents, only 59 (46.8%) received antiviral treatment or regular follow-up. No concept or no willing to receive medical care was observed in 44 (34.9%) residents. CONCLUSION: In HCV endemic villages of Taiwan, residents with unaware HCV infection comprised about one third of HCV infected residents and exhibited obscure characteristics to identify. Less than half of already known HCV infected residents received adequate medical care. To eliminate HCV infection, vigorous efforts on enhancing screening coverage, educating update knowledge of liver diseases, and linking to medical care are urgently needed.

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