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

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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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Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Gastroenterologi


Sidor (från-till)650-655
TidskriftScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Utgåva nummer6
StatusPublished - 1998
Peer review utfördJa