19 February 2008
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in hemodialysis (HD) patients. The reported prevalence of HCV among the HD population has varied greatly from 1.9 to 84.6% in different countries in recent years. The length of time on HD is generally believed to be associated with HCV acquisition in HD subjects. Nevertheless, several recent reports failed to recognize any significant role of blood transfusion. Although there are some considerations about the accuracy of serologic testing in detecting HCV in HD patients, the accumulated data in this review suggest the false-negativity rate to be not more than 1.66% (153/9,220). Therefore, substituting virologic for serologic testing in the routine diagnosis of HCV infection in HD patients seems unreasonable. Several phylogenetic analyzes of viral isolates suggested nosocomial patient-to-patient transmission of HCV among HD patients for which the main potential source is believed to be contaminated hands and articles. However, isolation of HCV-infected HD patients and use of dedicated machines are currently unjustified while strict adherence to universal precautions seems to be enough to control disease spread in HD units. The present article is an update on epidemiological and clinical features of HCV in HD population.