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Hepatology. 2001 Feb;33(2):455-63.

Long-term mortality and morbidity of transfusion-associated non-A, non-B, and type C hepatitis: A National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute collaborative study.

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The Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, Washington, DC, USA.


Persons with non-A, non-B hepatitis (cases) identified in 5 transfusion studies in the early 1970s have been followed ever since and compared for outcome with matched, transfused, non-hepatitis controls from the same studies. Previously, we reported no difference in all-cause mortality but slightly increased liver-related mortality between these cohorts after 18 years follow-up. We now present mortality and morbidity data after approximately 25 years of follow-up, restricted to the 3 studies with archived original sera. All-cause mortality was 67% among 222 hepatitis C-related cases and 65% among 377 controls (P = NS). Liver-related mortality was 4.1% and 1.3%, respectively (P =.05). Of 129 living persons with previously diagnosed transfusion-associated hepatitis (TAH), 90 (70%) had proven TAH-C, and 39 (30%), non-A-G hepatitis. Follow-up of the 90 TAH-C cases revealed viremia with chronic hepatitis in 38%, viremia without chronic hepatitis in 39%, anti-HCV without viremia in 17%, and no residual HCV markers in 7%. Thirty-five percent of 20 TAH-C patients biopsied for biochemically defined chronic hepatitis displayed cirrhosis, representing 17% of all those originally HCV-infected. Clinically evident liver disease was observed in 86% with cirrhosis but in only 23% with chronic hepatitis alone. Thirty percent of non-A, non-B hepatitis cases were unrelated to hepatitis viruses A,B,C, and G, suggesting another unidentified agent. In conclusion, all-cause mortality approximately 25 years after acute TAH-C is high but is no different between cases and controls. Liver-related mortality attributable to chronic hepatitis C, though low (<3%), is significantly higher among the cases. Among living patients originally HCV-infected, 23% have spontaneously lost HCV RNA.

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