News from Hepatitis Week of Jan. 19, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 03

Study: Hepatitis C Sufferers More Likely to Have Other Infectious Disease

People with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) are more likely to have other infectious diseases, according to a study reported in the January issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Researchers from the Houston Veterans Affairs Medical Center found that several infectious diseases are more common among HCV-infected patients compared to those without HCV infection.

"HCV shares risk factors and routes of transmission with several other infectious agents," said the researchers. "However, the prevalence of comorbid infectious disorders among HCV-infected patients remains unknown."

The researchers investigated this association using information from 172 hospitals contained in the computerized databases of the Department of Veterans Affairs. A total of 34,204 HCV-infected patients and 136,816 control subjects without HCV were identified.

HCV patients were significantly more likely to have other blood-borne infections than those without HCV. The most prevalent were HIV (14.1 percent vs. 3.0 percent), hepatitis B (22.4 percent vs. 0.7 percent) and immunodeficiency-related infections such as cytomegalovirus (0.6 percent vs. 0.2 percent), toxoplasmosis (0.3 percent vs. 0.1 percent), cryptococcosis (0.4 percent vs. 0.1 percent) and tuberculosis (3.3 percent vs. 1.3 percent).

The HCV group also had a higher incidence of sexually transmitted diseases, including gonococcus (0.5 percent vs. 0.1 percent), chlamydia (1.6 percent vs. 0.7 percent), syphilis (2.0 percent vs. 0.6 percent) and genital herpes (1.0 percent vs 0.3 percent) as well as bacterial infections, including peritonitis, sepsis, endocarditis, cellulitis and carbuncles.

The researchers said their findings suggest that patients with infectious diseases should be targeted for HCV screening.

Other sources: American Journal of Gastroenterology 98(1):167-74