Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 180 million people, 3% of the world population, are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). In Italy, the prevalence in the general population is reported to be greater than 5% and 9% among households of HCV-positive patients.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to estimate the trends of HCV infection in Italy in the period 1996-2006.
Materials and Methods: The formula ln (rate) = b × years was applied for logarithmic transformation of the incidence rates to obtain time trends of HCV infection, using the joinpoint regression program software version 3.3.1. Linear graphs representing trends and the annual percentage change (APC) were considered for each joinpoint. Time changes are expressed as expected annual percentage change (EAPC) with the respective 95% confidence intervals (CIs); significance levels of time trends are also reported. The null hypothesis was tested using a maximum of 3 changes in slope with an overall significance level of 0.05 divided by the number of joinpoints in the final model.
Results: Considering all age groups, the incidence rate decreased from 2.02 to 0.55 per 100,000. The joinpoint analysis showed a statistically significant decrease in the incidence rates of HCV infection. No joinpoints were found in any age groups. Our data show that the incidence rates of HCV infections have considerably decreased in each age group throughout the studied period (1996-2006).
Conclusions: This decreasing trend in HCV infections is, in part, attributable to behavioral and social changes. Improved hygiene, use of precautions in medical settings, blood screening, and sexual educational campaigns seem to have contributed to reduce the transmission of infection during the last 10 years.
- Implication for health policy/practice/research/medical education:
Behavioral changes are a leading factor in the decrease of HCV infections. Every effort should be made with the aim to maintain low levels of HCV infection. More attention, in particular, needs to be placed to improve socio-economic condition and to sanitation during medical procedures, even for those performed at home.
- Please cite this paper as:
La Torre G, Gualano MR, Semyonov L, Nicolotti N, Ricciardi W, Boccia A. Hepatitis C Virus Infection Trends in Italy, 1996-2006. Hepat Mon. 2011; 11(11):895-900. DOI: 10.5812/kowsar.1735143X.767
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