Prevalence of elevated ALT values, HBsAg, and anti-HCV in the primary care setting and evaluation of guideline defined hepatitis risk scenarios

Ingmar Wolffram, David Petroff, Olaf Bätz, Katrin Jedrysiak, Jan Kramer, Hannelore Tenckhoff, Thomas Berg, Johannes Wiegand
Journal of Hepatology 2015, 62 (6): 1256-64

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Prevalence data for hepatitis B and C and an evaluation of a guideline based screening in the primary care setting are not yet available. We therefore implemented a hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening and developed guideline based screening strategies.

METHODS: HBsAg, anti-HCV, and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) were included in a routine check-up together with a questionnaire covering 16 guideline adapted risk scenarios. Significant risk factors were identified by stepwise logistic regression.

RESULTS: 51 private practices screened 21,008 patients. The HBsAg, anti-HCV, and HCV-RNA prevalence was 0.52%, 0.95%, and 0.43%, respectively. Infections were previously unknown in 85% and 65% of HBsAg and anti-HCV positive individuals, respectively. Sexual risk factors were under-reported, while the following scenarios were significantly associated with viral infections (Odds ratio [95% confidence interval]). HBV: Immigration (4.4 [2.9, 6.7]), infection in household (2.5 [1.2, 4.5]), male gender (1.6 [1.1, 2.4]). Male immigrants had a 2.1% HBsAg prevalence and 80% were unaware of the infection. HCV: IV drug use (384 [233, 644]), blood transfusion before 1992 (5.3 [3.5, 7.9]), immigration (2.4 [1.5, 3.6]). Presence of either one of the HBV related guideline defined risk scenarios or elevated ALT identified 82% of previously undiagnosed patients. Presence of one of the three significant HCV risk factors or elevated ALT levels diagnosed 83% of unknown HCV-RNA positive cases by screening only 26% of the population.

CONCLUSIONS: Undiagnosed hepatitis B and C infections frequently exist in the primary care setting. Easy to apply guideline defined risk scenarios help to diagnose previously unknown infections.

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