Background: Wuwei City has the highest prevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in China. From 2007 to 2011, the average reported incidence rate of hepatitis B was 634.56/100,000 people. However, studies assessing the epidemic features and risk factors of HCV in the general population of Wuwei City are limited.
Methods: A total of 7189 people were interviewed and screened for HCV antibodies. HCV RNA and HCV genotypes were analyzed by PCR. Relevant information was obtained from the general population using a standardized questionnaire, and association and logistic regression analyses were conducted.
Results: The anti-HCV prevalence was 1.64% (118/7189), and HCV-RNA was detected in 37.29% (44/118) of the anti-HCV positive samples. The current HCV infection rate was 0.61% (44/7189) in the Wuwei general population. Hepatitis C infection rate was generally higher in the plains regions (χ(2) = 27.54,P<0.05), and the most predominant HCV genotypes were 2a (59.1%) and 1b (34.1%). The concurrent HCV and HBV infection rate was 1.37%, and a history of blood transfusion (OR = 17.9, 95% CI: 6.1 to 52.6, p<0.001) was an independent risk factor for HCV positivity.
Conclusions: Although Wuwei is a highly endemic area for HBV, the anti-HCV positive rate in the general population is low. More than one-third of HCV-infected people were unaware of their infection; this may become an important risk factor for hepatitis C prevalence in the general population. Maintaining blood safety is important in order to help reduce the burden of HCV infection in developing regions of China.