The latest research & treatment news about Hepatitis C infection, diagnosis, symptoms and treatment.

West J Med 1996 May;164(5):399-404

Clinical sequelae of Hepatitis C acquired from injection drug use.

Tong MJ, el-Farra NS

Liver Center, Huntington Memorial Hospital, Pasadena, CA 91105, USA.

We determined the course of Hepatitis C infection in 125 patients with a history of injection drug use. The mean age at presentation was 43.5 years, and the mean age of initiating injection drug use was 23.1 years. Fatigue and hepatomegaly were present in as many as 60% of patients. All had antibodies to the Hepatitis C recombinant protein C25, and 99% were positive for Hepatitis C virus RNA. After the initial workup, 33 (26%) patients had chronic hepatitis, 46 (37%) had chronic active hepatitis, 45 (36%) had cirrhosis, and 1 (0.8%) presented hepatocellular carcinoma. During follow-up, hepatocellular carcinoma developed in 2 other patients. In 74 patients with a 1-year history of injection drug use, the mean number of years to the development of chronic hepatitis, chronic active hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma were 15.6, 17.6, 19.4, and 26.3 years, respectively. In this subgroup of patients, heavy alcohol abuse did not appear to influence the progression of liver disease. The 2-year case-fatality rate was 2%. Our findings indicate that Hepatitis C is a progressive disease, but only a few died during the average 20.4 years after the initiation of injection drug use. Antiviral treatment to eradicate the virus and halt the progression of disease is indicated in this group of patients.

PMID: 8686295, UI: 96280428