HCV and OBI Co-Infections May Increase Poor Outcomes
The results of a new study, published online on June 10, 2013, in the Journal of Hepatology, have found that chronic hepatitis C patients who are also infected with occult hepatitis B have a higher risk of progressing toward cirrhosis and of developing hepatocellular carcinoma.
Researchers of the observational study tested 326 chronic hepatitis C patients for occult hepatitis B virus infections (OBIs) through the analysis of liver biopsy DNA extracts from 1991 to 2000. Almost 40% of patients tested OBI positive and 94 of the original 326 were followed up for at least 5 years and for a maximum of 19 years. During the follow-up period, 79 patients received anti-hepatitis C virus treatments and 26 achieved a sustained virological response.
Approximately 35% of OBI-positive patients developed hepatocellular carcinoma, compared with just 9% of patients without OBI. Among patients who did not develop hepatocellular carcinoma, 33% of those with OBI developed advanced forms of cirrhosis, while only 13% of those infected with hepatitis C alone suffered cirrhosis. Of the 18 patients who died from liver-related causes during the follow-up period, 12 were OBI positive.
The researchers conclude that individuals infected with both hepatitis C and occult hepatitis B may have increased rated of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma and decreased rates of survival.