Background & aims. Epidemiological studies mainly performed in the ‘90s reported a high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in Italian elderly subjects whereas HBV prevalence was generally below 1%, even in this age range. Moreover, during the last decades few studies were performed to investigate the seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infections in nursing homes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the current prevalence of HBV and HCV infections in a population of older residents in two nursing homes in a Sicilian urban area.
Methods. A total number of 316 male subjects [115 (36.4%), median age 84 years (range 65-101 years)] consecutively admitted to two nursing homes in Messina from January to December 2015, were tested for HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), anti-HBV and anti-HCV antibodies. Transaminase (AT) values were evaluated in all patients.
Results. Three/316 subjects(0.95%) tested HBsAg positive. Serological markers of previous HBV infection (HBsAg negative, anti-HBV positive) were found in 81/316 cases (25.6%). Nine/316 cases (2.8%) tested positive for anti-HCV. Neither HBsAg nor anti-HCV positive subjects had any laboratory or clinical evidence of liver disease. Only 2/316 patients (both HBV and HCV serum-marker negative) had AT values above the upper limit of the normal range.
Conclusions. Low HBV and HCV prevalence together with a lack of evidence of liver disease in both HBsAg and anti-HCV positive subjects suggest that the development of a virus-related hepatic illness is generally incompatible with reaching old age.