Objective: Patients on maintenance hemodialysis are known to have an elevated risk of acquiring hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Therefore, a reliable diagnosis of HCV infection is essential in order to prevent the spread of the disease in dialysis units. However, whether PCR examination is dispensable in hemodialysis patients has been debated. Methods: From 1995 to 2002, serum samples from all hemodialysis patients at our hospital (n = 1,774) were screened by serological assays and by polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Results: In 25 of these patients acute HCV infection was observed and in 11 patients HCV seroconversion was delayed for 3–16 months. During this time the infection was exclusively detectable by PCR. Conclusion: Despite the growing demand for cost-effectiveness in the health system, HCV PCR examination must remain an essential part of the routine screening in hemodialysis patients.

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