A pilot observational survey of hepatitis C in BelgiumA pilot observational survey of hepatitis C in Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Laboratory Experimental Medicine and Pediatrics (LEMP)
Acta gastro-enterologica belgica. - Bruxelles, 1946 - 1995
71(2008):1, p. 4-8
University of Antwerp
Aim of the study: There is a lack of epidemiological data on hepatitis C (HCV) infected patients in Belgium. Therefore our purpose was to address this important question and to evaluate the feasibility of a national HCV observatory. Patients and methods : From November 2003 to November 2004, every new patient prospectively seen for HCV antibody positivity in 9 Belgian hospital centres was recorded and a standardised 10-items questionnaire was completed during the consultation, including a Quality of Live (QOL) visual analogue scale. Results : Three hundred and eighteen consecutive patients were recruited. Fifty five percent were male with a median age of 45 y (11-87 y). The main risk factors for infection were IV drug use (27%), blood transfusion (23%), and invasive medical procedure (11%). On the QOL scale, ranging from 0 and 100, mean value was 61 +/- 31. Transaminases were abnormal in 66% with a median elevation 2 times above normal value. HCV RNA was positive in 87% with a viral load above 800 000 IU/ml in 42%. Genotype 1 was predominant (59%), followed by genotypes 3 (19%) and 4 (14%). A liver biopsy was performed in 190 patients, with minimal fibrosis (METAVIR F0-F1) in 43%, moderate fibrosis (F2) in 35% and advanced stages (F3-F4) in 22%. Antiviral treatment was not considered in 53% because of normal ALT (30%), old age (7%), minimal histological stage (6%) or patient refusal (4%). Conclusions : This study highlights the feasibility of a national HCV survey using a simple questionnaire. This pilot study could be generalised throughout Belgium, and, if repeated, could allow a regular assessment of the changes in epidemiology and management of HCV infection in our country.