We determined the prevalence of antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) in 90 patients and 37 staff members of two hemodialysis units utilizing a recently developed anti-HCV recombinant based assay. Eleven patients (12%) were anti-HCV (+). Of these, eight (73%) had antibodies to the hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc) indicating prior hepatitis B infection; one patient was hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) (+). All staff members were anti-HCV (-), although seven (19%) of them were anti-HBc (+). Alanine aminotransferase elevations were present at the time of the study in four anti-HCV (-) patients and in only one anti-HCV (+) patient. All anti-HCV (+) (mean 59 ± 74; range 3 to 269 units) and 85% of anti-HCV (-) patients (mean 16 ± 27; range 0 to 204 units) had received multiple blood transfusions (P = 0.348). Among 50 patients tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), 43% of anti-HCV (+) as compared to only 7% anti-HCV (-) were positive (P = 0.003). There was a history of intravenous drug abuse (IVDA) in eight (72%) of the anti-HCV (+) patients and in only seven (9%) of the anti-HCV (-) group (P = 0.00001). The results of this serologic survey suggests that anti-HCV positivity is prevalent, although much less than anti-HBc, among our dialysis patients, whereas it was not detected among staff members. The prevalence rate of anti-HCV was statistically significantly higher among anti-HIV (+) and IVDA patients but not in multi-transfused patients.
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