Study Confirms Poor Outcomes in Chronic Hepatitis C

30-year follow-up of infected plasma donors

MONDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of a cohort of patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) during the 1970s have developed advanced liver disease, according to a study published in the July Journal of Hepatology, highlighting the importance of identifying and treating HCV infection.

Peter Ferenci, M.D., of the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, and colleagues analyzed the medical records of 485 plasma donors who contracted HCV in Austrian plasmapheresis centers during the 1970s.

Over a mean follow-up of 31 years, plasma donors experienced significant morbidity and mortality from HCV infection. Thirty-four percent of patients developed advanced liver disease, and overall mortality was 7 percent. Concomitant alcohol abuse and diabetes correlated with disease progression. 21 donors (4.7 percent) developed hepatocellular carcinoma, and 36 (7.4 percent) required liver transplantation. Cumulative 35-year survival was 84 percent, which was 7 to 11 percentage points lower than expected for age.

"In conclusion, our study supports earlier data that although there is no significant mortality in the first 20 years after infection, later follow-up shows that both morbidity and mortality increase substantially," wrote the authors. "These data underline the progressive nature of chronic hepatitis C infection and the need to identify and treat infected subjects."

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