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Dig Liver Dis. 2007 Aug;39(8):753-61. Epub 2007 Jul 3.

HCV and diabetes. A two-question-based reappraisal.

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  • 1University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Department of Internal Medicine, Metabolism, Endocrinology and Geriatrics, Operating Unit Internal Medicine & Metabolism, Nuovo Ospedale Civile Estense di Baggiovara, Modena 41100, Italy.


We used available studies to answer two clinically relevant questions, i.e. whether those with type 2 diabetes should undergo hepatitis C virus screening and whether hepatitis C virus positive individuals should be screened for diabetes. Four reasons argue against the hypothesis of screening diabetics for hepatitis C virus. First, although it induces insulin resistance, hepatitis C virus is not directly diabetogenic. Second, the clinical phenotype of hepatitis C virus-associated type 2 diabetes might be a clue to target the specific diabetic population to be screened. Third, diabetic patients are expected to be poor responders to antivirals and evidence that this might result in recovery from type 2 diabetes is insufficient. Fourth, no econometric data are available in the specific subset of those with type 2 diabetes. Case finding of type 2 diabetes in those with hepatitis C virus infection, in contrast, might be considered in those patients with type 2 diabetes who have cirrhosis, in whom--due to increased prevalence and severity of hepatic encephalopathy--diabetes is associated with increased mortality. Preliminary evidence suggests that the prognosis of cirrhosis might benefit from improved glycemic control and thus from earlier diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Finally, studies are needed to ascertain the most cost-effective strategy of case-finding type 2 diabetes among those who are hepatitis C virus-infected. In conclusion, available data enabled us to answer the two questions. Hepatitis C virus screening should best be restricted to those (lean) diabetic patients with (advanced) liver disease. Glucose tolerance testing should best be performed in those with hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis. However, additional studies are needed to support the cost-effectiveness of our conclusions.

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