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Risk of Hepatitis C Virus Transmission through Acupuncture: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Hyun, MH | Kim, JH | Jang, JW | Song, JE | Song, DS | Lee, HW | Cho, YY | Kim, GA | Yoon, EL | Sinn, DH | Kim, SS  | Yim, SY | Yang, H | An, J
The Korean journal of gastroenterology, 82(3). : 127-136, 2023
Journal Title
The Korean journal of gastroenterology
Background/Aims: Chronic hepatitis C is a major risk factor for liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and hepatic failure. Although traditional practices, including acupuncture, tend to increase the risk of HCV infection, the association remains controversial. Therefore, the current meta-analytical study was undertaken to evaluate the risks of acupuncture and hepatitis C transmission. Methods: Two researchers independently screened studies from the databases encompassing the period from inception to May 12, 2022. Baseline demographics, HCV transmission OR, and 95% CIs were extracted, pooled, and analyzed using random-effect models. Subgroup analyses utilizing study design and ethnicity were performed. Heterogeneity and publication bias were analyzed using the Higgins I2 test and funnel plots, respectively. Results: In all, 28 studies with 194,826 participants (178,583 controls [91.7%] vs. 16,243 acupuncture users [8.3%]) were included in the final analysis. The pooled analysis showed that acupuncture users had a significantly higher HCV transmission rate than controls with heterogeneity (OR, 1.84 [1.46-2.32]; p<0.001; I2 =80%). In the subgroup analysis, both cross-sectional case-control (n=14; OR, 1.96 [1.47-2.61]; p<0.001; I2 =88%) and cross-sectional studies (n=12; OR, 1.85 [1.32-2.61]; p<0.001; I2 =0%) showed significantly higher HCV infection rates in the acupuncture group than in the control group. Both Asian and non-Asian acupuncture users showed a higher HCV transmission risk than the controls (all Ps<0.001). No significant publication bias was observed. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that acupuncture increases the risk of HCV transmission. Due to HCV's contagiousness, unsafe medical and social practices (including acupuncture) should be performed with caution.


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Journal Papers > School of Medicine / Graduate School of Medicine > Gastroenterology
Ajou Authors
김, 순선
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