Original report| Volume 3, ISSUE 4, P207-210, June 1999

Surgical procedures as a major risk factor for chronic hepatitis C virus infection in Italy: Evidence from a case-control study

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      Objectives: The study was carried out to evaluate the risk factors associated with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
      Methods: This case-control study used multiple logistic regression analysis to determine risk factors associated with HCV infection. Study participants were followed at 10 liver or gastroenterologic units and included 294 subjects with chronic HCV infection and 295 age and sex matched anti-HCV-negative controls.
      Results: The use of glass syringes and surgical procedures was reported by as many as 77.6% and 73.8% of cases, respectively; blood transfusion was recorded in nearly a quarter of cases; 10.2% of cases, but none of the controls, reported past or current intravenous drug use. Multiple logistic regression analysis showed that blood transfusion, being the sexual partner of an intravenous drug user, and surgery all were independent predictors of the likelihood of HCV infection.
      Conclusions: These findings indicate that, besides the well-known sources of infection, such as blood transfusion and intravenous drug use, surgical procedures may play an important role in the spread of HCV infection in Italy. Given that a large proportion of the general population undergoes surgery, a rational and relatively inexpensive policy for the prevention of HCV infection must focus on implementing efficient procedures for the sterilization of instruments and the use of disposable materials in surgical units.



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