The last Italian prevalence survey on chronic hepatitis (CH) conducted in 2001 showed that the hepatitis C virus (HCV) was the main agent associated with CH.Aim
The aim of this study was to evaluate epidemiological changes in CH occurring after 13 years.Patients and methods
Enrollment of 1392 CH consecutive patients referred to 16 Italian liver units in 2014 scattered all over the country (four in the North, four in the Center, four in the South, and four in the Islands) was performed.Results
The mean age of the patients was 58.3 years, with a sex ratio (male/female) of 1.5. HCV infection (also with other etiologies) continues to be the most prevalent etiology (58.1%). However, this prevalence was lower (P<0.01) than the corresponding figure (76.5%) for 2001. The proportion of hepatitis B virus-related cases almost doubled over time from 12.2% in 2001 to 22.5% in 2014 (P<0.01), 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 (also with other etiologies) accounted for 12.4% of cases, a figure lower than that reported in 2001: 19.2% (P<0.01). The proportion of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease cases nearly doubled over time (3.6% in 2001 and 6.2% in 2014; P<0.05), reflecting the greater attention over time devoted to this syndrome.Conclusion
The decreasing role of HCV infection as an etiologic factor of CH 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.