Long-term outcome of chronic hepatitis C infection in a low-prevalence area

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Although hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is recognized as an important causative factor in the development of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular cancer (HCC), the strength of this correlation has been difficult to confirm in low-prevalence areas. METHODS: Stored serum samples from 987 consecutive (1978-88) patients with chronic liver disease were tested with an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay for anti-HCV and further confirmed by immunoblot. To evaluate the long-term outcome, the cohort was followed up until 1995, for a median observation time of 10 years. RESULTS: Anti-HCV, confirmed by immunoblot, was found in 9.5% (94 of 987) of the patients, and at inclusion most patients were asymptomatic irrespective of anti-HCV status. Of the 445 patients who died during the study period, 44 were HCV-positive. A liver-related cause of death was far commoner and the age-adjusted survival shorter among HCV-positive patients than among HCV-negative ones. At death 68% (30 of 44) of the HCV-positive subgroup had developed cirrhosis, and 30% (13 of 44) had concurrent HCC, as compared with 36% (142 of 393) (P = 0.001) and 8% (31 of 393) (P = 0.001), respectively, of the HCV-negative subgroup. HCV infection (P < 0.001), alcohol abuse (P < 0.001), and immigrant status (P = 0.045) were independent factors with regard to the development of cirrhosis, whereas HCV infection (P = 0.040) and immigrant status (P = 0.012) were independent factors with regard to HCC. CONCLUSIONS: HCV infection is common among patients with chronic liver disease, even when clinical evidence of viral infection is sparse, and constitutes a significant cause of death even in a low-prevalence area.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Gastroenterology and Hepatology

Keywords

  • hepatocellular cancer, Cirrhosis, hepatitis C infection
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)650-655
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume33
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Clinical Microbiology, Malmö (013011000), Chronic Inflammatory and Degenerative Diseases Research Unit (013242530), Emergency medicine/Medicine/Surgery (013240200)