BACKGROUND: Vallecamonica-Sebino is a community in Northern Italy (99,776 inhabitants) with one of the highest mortality rates for primary liver cancer and cirrhosis in Italy, and voluntary screening for HCV and HBV is widespread. The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of chronic liver diseases and their aetiology in the area.
METHODS: We used the following sources of data, linked at an individual level: (1) hospital discharge data; (2) local Viral Hepatitis Services; (3) tests for anti-HCV antibodies and HBsAg from local laboratories; (4) Local Health Authority registry of chronic liver disease patients; (5) drug prescriptions for HBV and HCV treatment; (6) archives of Alcohol Units.
RESULTS: 3.5% of the residents had chronic liver disease, mainly chronic hepatitis (61.6%), followed by cirrhosis (14.0%) and alcoholic liver disease (11.2%). HCV was the main cause of chronic liver disease in females (46.3%) and males (29.8%), followed by alcohol abuse in males (22.9%) and HBV (10.9% males and 9.2% females). Prevalence of anti-HCV positivity was 3.2%, and increased with age to 8.8% in subjects aged 65 years and over.
CONCLUSION: This study shows that an epidemiologic pattern of the prevalence of chronic liver diseases and their aetiology can be obtained using routinely collected data.