Simple Summary Epidemiological data on viral hepatitis are essential to optimize screening programs. For HCV, the Italian Health Ministry planned a cohort screening for those born in 1969-1989. In order to update the epidemiological data of viral hepatitis in a highly endemic area of Southern Italy and assess whether the screening programs currently planned by the Italian government for those born between 1969-1989 will be effective, a retrospective multicenter study was carried out enrolling all COVID-19 hospitalized patients screened for markers of HCV and HBV infection. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in access to the national health system of an unselected population similar to the general one. Among the 2126 patients evaluated, HBsAg and HCV-Ab prevalence was 1.6% and 5.1%, respectively. For HCV infection, a bimodal distribution was observed, with peaks in the birth cohorts 1930-1939 and 1960-1969 (11.6% and 5.6%, respectively). An analysis of the screening period imposed (born: 1969-1989) demonstrates that only 17% of HCV infection could be captured. Thus, an alignment of the screening period (i.e., birth cohort 1960-1984) would capture 40% of cases. Data show a high endemicity of hepatitis virus in our geographic area and the need for a tailored regional screening program. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the hospitalization of an unselected population with the possibility to evaluate the epidemiology of viral hepatitis. Thus, a retrospective multicenter study was conducted in an area of Southern Italy with the aim of assessing the prevalence of HCV and HBV markers and the ability of current screening program to capture cases. We evaluated 2126 hospitalized patients in seven COVID Centers of Naples and Caserta area in which 70% of the Campania population lives. HBsAg and HCV-Ab prevalence was 1.6% and 5.1%, respectively, with no differences between gender. Decade distribution for birth year shows a bimodal trend of HCV prevalence, with a peak (11.6%) in the decade 1930-1939 and a second peak (5.6%) for those born in 1960-1969. An analysis of the screening period imposed by the Italian government for those born between 1969 and 1989 shows that only 17% of cases of HCV infection could be captured. A small alignment of the screening period, i.e., those born from 1960 to 1984, would capture 40% of cases. The data confirm the high endemicity of our geographical area for hepatitis virus infections and underline the need for a tailored screening program according to the regional epidemiology.

Epidemiology of HCV and HBV in a High Endemic Area of Southern Italy: Opportunities from the COVID-19 Pandemic—Standardized National Screening or One Tailored to Local Epidemiology?

Nevola R.;Marrone A.;Coppola N.;Rescigno C.;Pisaturo M.;Maggi P.;Adinolfi L. E.
2022

Abstract

Simple Summary Epidemiological data on viral hepatitis are essential to optimize screening programs. For HCV, the Italian Health Ministry planned a cohort screening for those born in 1969-1989. In order to update the epidemiological data of viral hepatitis in a highly endemic area of Southern Italy and assess whether the screening programs currently planned by the Italian government for those born between 1969-1989 will be effective, a retrospective multicenter study was carried out enrolling all COVID-19 hospitalized patients screened for markers of HCV and HBV infection. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in access to the national health system of an unselected population similar to the general one. Among the 2126 patients evaluated, HBsAg and HCV-Ab prevalence was 1.6% and 5.1%, respectively. For HCV infection, a bimodal distribution was observed, with peaks in the birth cohorts 1930-1939 and 1960-1969 (11.6% and 5.6%, respectively). An analysis of the screening period imposed (born: 1969-1989) demonstrates that only 17% of HCV infection could be captured. Thus, an alignment of the screening period (i.e., birth cohort 1960-1984) would capture 40% of cases. Data show a high endemicity of hepatitis virus in our geographic area and the need for a tailored regional screening program. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the hospitalization of an unselected population with the possibility to evaluate the epidemiology of viral hepatitis. Thus, a retrospective multicenter study was conducted in an area of Southern Italy with the aim of assessing the prevalence of HCV and HBV markers and the ability of current screening program to capture cases. We evaluated 2126 hospitalized patients in seven COVID Centers of Naples and Caserta area in which 70% of the Campania population lives. HBsAg and HCV-Ab prevalence was 1.6% and 5.1%, respectively, with no differences between gender. Decade distribution for birth year shows a bimodal trend of HCV prevalence, with a peak (11.6%) in the decade 1930-1939 and a second peak (5.6%) for those born in 1960-1969. An analysis of the screening period imposed by the Italian government for those born between 1969 and 1989 shows that only 17% of cases of HCV infection could be captured. A small alignment of the screening period, i.e., those born from 1960 to 1984, would capture 40% of cases. The data confirm the high endemicity of our geographical area for hepatitis virus infections and underline the need for a tailored screening program according to the regional epidemiology.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11591/472290
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