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The Slow Unfolding of Hepatitis C

Study examines progression of liver disease

FRIDAY, Jan. 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- People infected with hepatitis C through blood transfusions they received shortly after being born had remarkably slow disease progression after 35 years, says an Italian study in the January issue of Hepatology.

The study included 31 people born in 1968 who received blood transfusions from a donor later found to carry hepatitis C antibodies. The study subjects were tested in 1998 for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and had their liver function evaluated.

Among the 31 subjects, 18 had anti-HCV antibodies and 16 tested positive for the virus. All had the same viral genotype as the infected donor.

Eleven of the 16 people who tested positive for HCV agreed to liver biopsies. The study found inflammatory activity was minimal in one person and mild in the other 10. Most of the biopsies indicated that fibrosis was mild or nonexistent in most of the subjects. But two of them did have discrete or marked fibrosis.

The subjects with HCV were followed for five years to track their liver health.

"The findings in this study indicate that a 35-year span of HCV infection has not, in itself, been the cause of significant liver disease," the study authors write.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about hepatitis C.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, January 2004
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