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Look-back screening for the identification of transfusion-induced hepatitis C virus infection in Sweden

Journal article
Authors Magdalena Ydreborg
Ann Söderström
Agneta Håkanson
Åsa Alsiö
B Arnholm
P Malmstrom
Kristoffer Hellstrand
Johan Westin
Martin Lagging
Published in Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 43
Issue 6-7
Pages 522-527
ISSN 0036-5548
Publication year 2011
Published at Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Infectious Medicine
Pages 522-527
Language en
Keywords hepatitis c virus, blood transfusion, antiviral treatment, liver fibrosis and prevalence
Subject categories Infectious Medicine


Background: Following the discovery of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 1989, screening of all blood donors for antibodies became mandatory in Sweden as of 1 January 1992. Methods: Serum samples were collected from patients who had received a blood transfusion in the period prior to 1992 in western Sweden. The prevalence of HCV infection was assessed by antibody screening. Results: Of 13,573 screening serologies, 124 patients (0.9%) had antibodies against HCV; 113 (0.8%) had detectable HCV RNA indicating an ongoing infection. Ninety-one (73%) were female, of whom 32 had been transfused in conjunction with childbirth. A review of the 32 liver biopsy reports available showed that 2 patients had cirrhosis and an additional 9 patients had periportal or septal fibrosis. Conclusion: A considerable portion of screened patients had an ongoing HCV infection and were eligible for antiviral treatment. Look-back screening for HCV among recipients of blood transfusions prior to 1992 is meaningful and should include women transfused in childbirth.

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