The Prevalence of Viral Hepatitis C in Latvia: A Population-Based Study
and Objective. Chronic viral hepatitis C (VHC) is one of the most discussed infectious diseases worldwide. The number of infected persons worldwide is approximately 170 million, and in Europe, it exceeds 9 million. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV prevalence) and prevalence of HCV viremia (HCV-RNA prevalence) in Latvia. Material and Methods. A multistage randomized selection was used. A total of 42 primary care physicians (PCPs)
... physicians (PCPs) were randomly selected from the register of PCPs from different regions of Latvia. From each PCP register, 60 subjects were selected (1651 individuals in total) and invited for the anti-HCV test with a screening method (ELISA). In case of positive results, antibodies were confirmed by the Western blot test, and all these subjects were tested for HCV-RNA by polymerase chain reaction. Results. Of the 1459 subjects tested, 57 were positive for anti-HCV (3.9%; 95% CI 3% to 5%); 35 of them were positive for anti-HCV with a confirmatory test (2.4%; 95% CI, 1.7% to 3.3%): 19 men and 16 women (3.8% and 1.7%, respectively; P=0.011). The results of HCV RNA test were positive in 25 subjects (1.7%; 95% CI, 1.2% to 2.5%): 15 men and 10 women (3% and 1% respectively, P=0.019). Conclusions. The prevalence of anti-HCV and HCV-RNA in Latvia was found to be 2.4% and 1.7%, respectively. The prevalence of anti-HCV and HCV-RNA was higher in men than women.