News from Hepatitis Week of August 3, 2003 / Vol. 3 No. 31

Study: Patient Interviews Ineffective in Identifying Source of Hepatitis C

Finding just how individuals become infected with the hepatitis C virus presents a problem for clinicians. Although the virus is primarily transmitted through infected blood products or shared needles, many infected individuals deny any exposure to these risk factors.

A team of Scottish researchers attempted to determine whether in-depth interviews would reveal the likely source of hepatitis C for those whose route of infection was uncertain.

After interviewing 10 hepatitis C patients and scrutinizing their clinical information, the researchers found that it was impossible to establish the likely route of infection for nine of the individuals because they reported several risk events.

"There is little benefit to interviewing routinely those hepatitis C virus- infected people who have no history of injecting drugs or having received a contaminated blood transfusion to ascertain their likely source or time of infection," concluded the researchers. "At best, such effort might only increase one's confidence that infection was acquired through means other than these 2 routes."

Other sources: Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases 2003;35(5):326-8