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Italy leads Europe in hepatitis C cases


Milan, June 11 - Italy leads Europe in cases of
hepatitis C with 3% of the population infected, more than half
of whom suffer from the most difficult variety to treat, leading
experts said Tuesday.
Some 1.6 million people carry the liver infection in Italy
and 55% of them are afflicted with genotype 1, a particularly
infectious strain of the disease, said doctors at the Premio
Giornalistico Riccardo Tomassetti conference on virology in
"At least one million Italians are chronic carriers of the
infection," said Massimo Colombo, director of special treatments
and organ transplants at Milan's Maggiore hospital.
"One third of these people have developed or are developing
serious liver infections".
The majority of patients contracted the virus in the 1970s
and 80s, Colombo said, with infected blood transfusions, or from
health instruments such as hypodermic needles that were not
"But another 200-300,000 contracted the disease due to
risky behaviour such as unprotected sex, piercings and tattoos.
"In addition we should include a substantial number of
migrants who come from areas with high levels of hepatitis C".

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