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Reuters Health Information (2005-09-01): Long-standing HCV infection usually leads to cirrhosis


Long-standing HCV infection usually leads to cirrhosis

Last Updated: 2005-09-01 14:05:07 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In a study of adult Asian patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) in childhood, more than 70% went on to develop cirrhosis, according to a report in the September issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Previous reports have shown that about 20% of patients who are infected with HCV for 20 years develop cirrhosis. However, the rate of cirrhosis for longer periods of infection was unclear.

To investigate, Dr. Graham R. Foster, from Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London, and colleagues analyzed data from all patients who had detectable HCV-RNA levels and were evaluated at hospitals in northeast London between 1992 and 2003.

The study group included 143 adult Asian patients who were presumably infected with HCV in childhood and 239 Caucasian patients.

Seventy-eight percent of Asian patients between 61 and 80 years of age had cirrhosis, the report indicates. The corresponding rate in the Caucasian group was lower, 25%, but the authors believe that this simply reflects a shorter duration of infection. For a given duration of infection, the severity of fibrosis seen in each ethnic group was similar.

"This study suggests that prolonged infection with HCV leads to cirrhosis" in most patients, Dr. Foster said in a statement. "While previous studies have found differences in the disease progression in various ethnic groups, our findings confirm that fibrosis progression is the same across these groups and leads to development of cirrhosis and liver disease at the same rate in everyone."

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatology 2005;3:910-917.

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