, Volume 51, Issue 2, pp 365-369

Risk Factors for the Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in the Turkish Population

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The risk factors for the transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection varies substantially between countries and geographic regions. The aim of this investigation was to determine the risk factors which may be involved in the transmission of HCV infection in the Turkish population. This study included patients who were admitted to the Department of Gastroenterohepatology, Istanbul Medical Faculty, Istanbul University, between 1996 and 2002 and found to be anti-HCV positive during hospitalization or during follow-up as outpatients. All patients were asked about risk factors for HCV transmission including transfusion, history of operation, hospitalization, hemodialysis, intravenous drug use, suspected sexual contact, tattooing, acupuncture, dental procedures, manicure and pedicure, blood brotherhood rituals, perinatal risk factors, common circumcision rituals, and history of abortion. In our study, total of 320 patients with anti-HCV seropositivity were involved. The numbers and percentages of male and female patients were 139 (43.4%) and 181 (56.6%), respectively. The mean age of the patients was 49.7± 12.4 years (range: 18–73 years). HCV-RNA was found to be positive in 297 (92.8%) patients. The most common risk factor was a history of surgery (305; 98%), and the second most common was blood transfusion (123; 39.7%). The numbers and percentages of patients for the other risk factors were as follows: dental procedure, 86 (27.5%); abortion, 66 (21.2%); long-term hospitalization, 37 (11.6%); hemodialysis, 31 (10%); history of jaundice, 15 (4.6%); history of intravenous drug abuse, 10 (3.1%); history of suspected sexual contact, 5 (1.5%); history of manicure and pedicure, 4 (1.2%); history of occupational transmission, 3 (0.9%); history of tattooing, 2 (0.6%); history of acupuncture, 2 (0.6%); circumcision in a common circumcision ritual, 1 (0.3%); and percutaneous needle puncture, 1 (0.3%). None of the patients had a history of blood brotherhood ritual or perinatal transmission. Only one risk factor was detected in 73 (22.8%) patients, two risk factors were detected in 122 (38.2%) patients, three risk factors were detected in 78 (24.5%) patients, and four risk factors were detected in 39 (12.2%) patients, however, in 8 (1.6%) patients no risk factors could be found. In Turkey, the most common risk factor for the transmission of HCV infection is surgery, which can be preventable.