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Reuters Health Information (2006-11-24): Hepatitis C clearance lowers reinfection risk


Hepatitis C clearance lowers reinfection risk

Last Updated: 2006-11-24 16:45:27 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection appears to reduce the risk of subsequent reinfection in injection drug users, researchers in Vancouver report.

"As injection drug users continue to drive the HCV epidemic in many developed countries, it is clear that any strategy for the control of this epidemic must include novel prevention and treatment strategies in this group," lead investigator Jason Grebely told Reuters Health.

To gain further information, Grebely, a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia and colleagues studied a cohort of more than 3500 inner-city residents, most of whom were injection drug users.

At baseline, the researchers identified 926 subjects uninfected and 658 infected subjects. In follow-up of more than 5 years, 23.1% showed spontaneous clearance of virus, the investigators report in the November issue of Hepatology.

The researchers found that subjects who had HCV infection but cleared the virus were four times less likely to become reinfected with HCV infection than those infected for the first time, even though they, for the most part, continued to engage in high-risk behaviors.

Grebely concluded that "these data provide a stronger rationale for expanding treatment programs for injection drug users, who are often denied treatment on unfounded concerns that reinfection will negate the benefits of treatment."

Hepatology 2006;44:1139-1145.

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