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 13 August 2022

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News

Hepatitis C virus persists without complications in most sufferers

A study of 1667 hepatitis C sufferers, published in the July 26 issue of JAMA, has revealed that persistent viremia without demonstrable liver disease is the most frequent outcome of the disease.

News image

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Dr David Thomas and colleagues investigated the factors which affected the outcome of the virus in subjects who had contracted the disease from injection drug use.

Out of 919 patients tested for viral clearance, infection was found to have cleared in 90, while 722 had persistent viremia. Viral clearance was found to be more likely in non-black persons and those who were not co-infected with HIV.

78.6% of subjects had persistant viremia without clinically demonstrable liver disease.

End-stage liver disease was detected in 40 of the 1667 patients in the study, after a median follow-up period of 8.8 years. This represents 3.1 cases of end-stage liver disease per 1000 person-years of follow up.

Incidence of end-stage liver disease was 3.68 times more likely for persons aged 38 or older compared to those under 38, and 3.60 times more likely in subjects who consumed more than 260 g of alcohol per week.

Dr Thomas emphasizes the need for further research to explain the lower rates of clearance of hepatitis C infection amongst black sufferers.

"We need to improve utilization of treatment for those infected in the context of drug use."

Dr David Thomas.

The research comes in a week when US Surgeon General, David Satcher, has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the virus, which is now estimated to infect 4 million Americans.

JAMA 2000;284:450-6
02 August 2000

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