Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is one of the main causes of liver fibrosis, chronic hepatitis, and liver cirrhosis. The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of HCV, age-dependent prevalence and genotypes distribution in a large number of clinical samples in Sichuan area of China.
Methods: In the past five years from 2014 to 2018, a total number of 4,508 individuals received the serum HCV-RNA analysis in the Sichuan Provincial People’s Hospital. Viral nucleic acid was extracted from the serum samples and amplified using COBAS AmpliPre/COBAS TaqMan Detection Platform. Five HCV genotypes (1b, 2a, 3a, 3b, and 6a) of serum samples from 469 HCV positive individuals collected from 2016 to 2018 were analyzed using the PCR-fluorescence probe technique.
Results: A total of 1,668 individuals had positive results by high precision HCV-RNA quantitative technique, corresponding to a crude prevalence of 37.0% (95% confidence interval: 33.6 - 40.3%). The majority of HCV positive individuals were aged over 41 years, accounting for 80.7% (1,346/1,668, CI: 72.3 - 87.1%). Among the nine age groups, the 41 - 50-year age group had the highest HCV prevalence of 29.8% (497/1,668, CI: 25.6 - 32.3%). Of the 469 HCV-RNA positive serum samples collected in 2016 - 2018, genotype 1b was the most frequent type found in 357 individuals, corresponding to a prevalence of 76.1% (CI: 72.3 - 80.0%).
Conclusions: Positive rates of HCV in the years of 2014 to 2018 showed a downward trend year by year, of which a majority of positive cases were aged over 41 years. HCV was distributed with multi-genotype features while genotype 1b yielded a very high prevalence in the Sichuan area. The results have potential for prevention and treatment of HCV infection, as well as epidemiological research.