Hepatitis C virus infections in dialysis units: prevalence of HCV-RNA and antibodies to HCV

Ann Med. 1994 Feb;26(1):45-52. doi: 10.3109/07853899409147326.


HCV infection causes serious complications in dialysis patients that lead to problems in management of patients in dialysis units. Determination of HCV-RNA is at present essential for monitoring the course of HCV infection. Reports concerning HCV-RNA in dialysis patients are mostly from Asian dialysis units; therefore, an analysis of dialysis patients in Europe was undertaken. From 1515 patients 2630 blood samples were screened for HCV-RNA and anti-HCV. Two-thirds of patients positive in an anti-HCV test containing a mixture of three antigens (EIA-II, Ortho) were further analysed for antibodies against these individual antigens. From 523 patients multiple samples were tested. Related on dialysis units from which all the attending patients were tested, mean prevalence of HCV-RNA was 8.4%, of anti-HCV 13.2%. Concerning all plasma samples from dialysis patients sent to our laboratory for investigation of HCV-RNA and anti-HCV the prevalence of HCV-RNA was 21.9%, of anti-HCV 23.1%, HCV-RNA was present in 76% of anti-HCV positive patients and in 4.1% of anti-HCV negative patients (1.3% of single and 6.8% of multiple tested patients). Acute and chronic infections with self-limited, persistent or intermittent viraemia were observed with changes and fluctuations of both HCV markers. With the exception of differences in onset of antibody production in some patients following acute infections, there were no major differences of dialysis patients compared to patients without dialysis treatment as far as antibody spectrum and detectability of HCV-RNA were concerned.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Hemodialysis Units, Hospital
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / immunology
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification*
  • Hepatitis Antibodies / blood*
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Viral / blood*
  • Renal Dialysis*


  • Hepatitis Antibodies
  • RNA, Viral