The aim of this article is to retrospectively evaluate the patient characteristics and the most common infectious diseases in immigrant patients hospitalized in 46 Italian infectious disease clinics during 2002. The main Italian infectious disease clinics were invited to fill in a questionnaire that regarded the number and type of hospital admissions, the country of origin, and demographic features (age, sex, and resident state) of immigrants. A total of 46 clinics including 2255 patients participated in the study. Most patients were men (63%) with an age between 16 and 40 years (63.4%) covered by the National Health Service (71%) and coming from Africa (44.3%). The main infectious diseases observed were: 378 (16.76%) cases of HIV infection, 303 (13.43%) cases of tuberculosis diseases, 282 (12.5%) cases of various forms of viral hepatitis, 177 (7.84%) cases of respiratory diseases, and 196 (8.69%) gastrointestinal diseases. Tropical diseases found were 134 (5.94%) including 95 cases of malaria (70.9%). In conclusion, a broad range of diseases was noted in immigrants which were directly correlated with conditions of poverty. Only a few tropical diseases were diagnosed and therefore the immigrant should not be considered as an infectious disease carrier.
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