The last Italian prevalence survey on chronic hepatitis conducted in 2001 showed that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) was the main agent associated with chronic hepatitis.
Dr Tommasoa Stroffolini and colleagues evaluated epidemiological changes in chronic hepatitis occurring after 13 years.
Enrollment of 1392 chronic hepatitis consecutive patients referred to 16 Italian liver units in 2014 scattered all over the country was performed.
The team found that the mean age of the patients was 58 years, with a sex ratio of 1.5.
The researchers observed that HCV infection continues to be the most prevalent etiology.
|Patients reporting risky alcohol intake accounted for 12% of cases |
|European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology|
However, this prevalence was lower than the corresponding figure for 2001.
The team noted that the proportion of hepatitis B virus-related cases almost doubled over time from 12% in 2001 to 23% in 2014, most probably biased because of the distribution of entecavir and tenofovir free of charge at outpatient hospital clinics after 2001.
Patients reporting risky alcohol intake accounted for 12% of cases vs 19% in 2001.
The researchers observed that the proportion of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease cases nearly doubled over time, reflecting the greater attention over time devoted to this syndrome.
Dr Stroffolini's team concludes, "The decreasing role of HCV infection as an etiologic factor of chronic hepatitis in Italy is good news considering the high cost of the directly acting antiviral agents for HCV eradication."
"Metabolic factors warrant greater attention in the near future."