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Hepatitis B Infection Often Severe in Hepatitis C Carriers

But a new study shows that hepatitis B infection can lead to clearance of hepatitis C virus

FRIDAY, April 10 (HealthDay News) -- In chronic carriers of hepatitis C virus, superinfection with hepatitis B virus is frequently severe but it also may lead to clearance of hepatitis C virus infection, according to study findings published in the April issue of Hepatology.

Evangelista Sagnelli, M.D., of the 2nd University of Naples in Italy, and colleagues conducted a case-control study of 29 chronic anti-hepatitis C virus carriers with acute hepatitis B and 29 anti-hepatitis C virus negative patients with acute hepatitis B.

The researchers found a significantly higher rate of severe acute hepatitis B in cases than in controls (34.5 percent versus 6.9 percent) and observed one death among the cases from liver failure. After following 24 cases long term, the researchers detected hepatitis C virus RNA in seven patients after one year, 14 patients after two years, and 18 patients after three to six years. They found that the six patients who eradicated hepatitis C virus infection were more likely to have had severe acute hepatitis B (83.3 percent versus 22.2 percent) and higher values of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase.

"Further efforts should be made to extend the use of hepatitis B virus vaccination in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus," the authors conclude. "This practice is recommended by several international and national healthcare institutions but remains poorly applied worldwide, in particular in developing countries where the risk of hepatitis B virus superinfection in hepatitis C virus chronic carriers is presumed to be high."

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