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SVR may increase survival rate of hepatitis C patients

Category: Sexually Transmitted Diseases

A recent study published in JAMA revealed that the sustained virological response (SVR) that comes from  interferon-based treatment in patients who have hepatitis C may increase their chances of survival. SVR occurs when a patient has undetectable levels of the virus in the bloodstream.

During the study, Adriaan J. van der Meer, M.D., of Erasmus MC University Medical Center in the Netherlands, along with his colleagues, analyzed 530 patients at five different hospitals in Europe and Canada who had contracted hepatitis C and undergone interferon-based treatments between 1990 and 2003. They then had follow-up analyses between January 2010 and October 2011.

Out of the 192 patients who had SVR, only 13 died, while 100 of the patients without SVR died. Other factors that contributed to patient fatalities included age, HCV genotype 3 infection, diabetes and alcohol abuse. Of all the patients who did not achieve SVR who died, 70 of the deaths were attributed to liver-related ailments, 15 of the deaths were non-liver related and the other 15 percent of the deaths were from unknown causes.

The researchers also revealed that patients who did not have SVR were more likely to need a transplant and had higher rates of other complications like liver failure and hepatocellular carcinoma, which is a malignant tumor.

"Our study with a long follow-up duration demonstrated a lower risk for all-cause mortality in patients with chronic HCV infection and advanced hepatic fibrosis who achieved SVR," noted the study authors. "In addition, we were able to further establish and quantify the risk reduction of HCC, liver failure and liver-related mortality or liver transplantation in patients with SVR."

Hepatitis C facts and statistics
According to Oxford Journals, approximately 170 million people throughout the world have contracted hepatitis C, and it is the leading cause of liver disease fatalities in the United States.

Some symptoms of hepatitis C include abdominal pain, clay-colored stools, dark urine, fatigue, fever, itching, jaundice, nausea and vomiting. A blood test for the disease's antibody is usually issued to diagnose the condition, reports the National Institutes of Health. A subsequent test may be conducted to test for the viral load. Patients may also have genetic testing conducted to find out which genotype of the virus they have. A majority of the people who contract the virus have a genotype 1 infection, which is the most difficult to treat, while genotype 2 and genotype 3 respond better to treatment.


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