Impact of COVID-19 fear on Hepatitis C management

Hepatitis C awareness during the pandemic



hepatitis C, management, pandemics


Background/Aim: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, a major cause of cirrhosis worldwide, is the most common cause of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma in Turkey. Today, HCV infection can be treated effectively and safely using direct-acting antiviral drugs, and therefore, the World Health Organization has announced elimination targets by 2030. During the pandemic, many social and personal restrictions were applied for fear of increasing the prevalence of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. Here we investigate the effects of these restrictions on managing HCV infection in internal medicine departments that deal with both infections.

Methods: Patients who applied to the internal medicine departments of our hospital and tested for anti-HCV between 11 March 2020 and 09 April 2022, which was the time interval when official restrictions were applied in Turkey during the COVID-19 pandemic, were included in the study. Patients who were not tested for anti-HCV were excluded from the study. The study was planned as a retrospective cohort study, and patients’ files tested for anti-HCV were scanned. Anti-HCV positivity, HCV RNA PCR testing, and treatment status in HCV RNA-positive patients were evaluated.

Results: During the official pandemic period when social restrictions were applied, anti-HCV positivity was revealed in 400 (1.9%) of 21,501 patients for whom anti-HCV tests were performed in internal medicine departments. HCV RNA was not tested in 64 of 400 patients with positive anti-HCV test (16%), and 83 (24.7%) of 336 patients tested for HCV RNA were found to be positive. It was determined that 17 (20.5%) of the HCV RNA-positive patients did not receive antiviral treatment.

Conclusion: In studies conducted in Turkey in the pre-pandemic period, it was determined that HCV RNA was not tested in approximately half of the anti-HCV-positive patients, while this rate was found to be only 16% during the pandemic period. This can be explained by the fact that patients infected with the COVID-19 virus were mostly followed-up by internal medicine clinics, where the awareness of viral hepatitis was high. It was determined that 20.5% of the patients with positive HCV RNA PCR tests remained untreated. This finding suggested that the social and personal restrictions applied during the pandemic led to patient follow-up and treatment disruptions.


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Research Article

How to Cite

Avcıoğlu U, Başkaya M İhsan. Impact of COVID-19 fear on Hepatitis C management: Hepatitis C awareness during the pandemic. J Surg Med [Internet]. 2023 Feb. 26 [cited 2024 May 25];7(2):170-2. Available from: