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Hepatitis C screening in hospitals: find the missing patients

Liu, Lili, Xu, Hongqin, Hu, Yue, Shang, Jia, Jiang, Jianning, Yu, Lei, Zhao, Caiyan, Zhang, Dazhi, Zhang, Xinxin, Li, Junfeng, Li, Wei, Wu, Yanan, Hu, Diefei, Wang, Xiaofang, Zhao, Qian, Zhang, Qiongfang, Luo, Wenqiang, Chen, Jia, Zhang, Donghua, Zhou, Wei, Niu, Junqi
Virology journal 2019 v.16 no.1 pp. 47
Hepatitis C virus, antibodies, confidence interval, females, hepatitis C, hospitals, males, neoplasms, patients, screening, seroprevalence, China
BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is one of the leading causes of liver cancer, creating enormous economic and social burdens. The Chinese government recommends routine screening of inpatients for HCV before invasive procedures to prevent iatric infections. However, the diagnosis and treatment rates for HCV remain low. The aim of this study was to use available routine screening data to understand the HCV screening of inpatients in different regions of China. METHODS: Inpatient information and HCV screening results were collected from January 2016 to December 2016 at eight tertiary hospitals in different regions of China to compare the HCV-positivity of hospitalized patients among different regions and age groups. RESULTS: The HCV screening rate of inpatients was more than 50%. A total of 467,008 inpatients were enrolled in the study (51.20% were male), and the HCV antibody (anti-HCV) -positive rate was 0.88% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.85–0.91%) among the total population. This rate was significantly higher among all males compared with all females (0.91% vs 0.85%). Moreover, the HCV antibody-positive rate increased with age and was highest for the 60–64-year age group. Notably, 90.14% (3722/4129) of the anti-HCV seropositive patients were 40 years of age or older. HCV screening for people over 40 years old is recommended. CONCLUSIONS: This study highlights the key role of routine examination for HCV infection in hospitalized patients. Full use of inpatient screening results to manage HCV antibody-positive patients and a screening strategy targeting inpatients 40 years and older were found to be low-cost and effective, which will help to find the missing millions of yet unaware patients and also accelerate the elimination of HCV in China.