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Small Hepatitis C Relapse Risk After Successful Retreatment

About 11 percent of hepatitis C patients relapse after successful combination retreatment

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Eleven out of 97 hepatitis C-positive patients who failed to respond to initial interferon treatment but seemed to clear the virus after combination interferon-ribavirin retreatment relapsed within two years, researchers report in the August issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Alessia Ciancio, M.D., Ph.D., of the Ospedale Molinette in Torino, Italy, and colleagues followed 97 chronic hepatitis C patients who responded to combination interferon-ribavirin treatment after initial interferon treatment failed.

The researchers found that within two years of retreatment, 11.3 percent of the patients had relapsed. The relapse rate was zero percent for patients retreated with 3 million units interferon-ribavirin for a year (Group 1), versus 13 percent for those treated with 5 million units interferon-ribavirin for a year (Group 2), 20 percent with 3 million units interferon-ribavirin for six months (Group 3), and 12 percent with 5 million units interferon-ribavirin for six months (Group 4).

The long-term response was higher in Group 2 than in Group 3 (15 percent versus 3 percent, respectively) among patients with genotypes 1 and 4. The long-term response was not affected by regimen in patients with genotypes 2 and 3.

"Non-responders to interferon monotherapy who achieve a sustained virologic response after retreatment with interferon plus ribavirin stand a discrete risk of hepatitis C virus reactivation within two years after therapy," the authors write.

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