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Iran Red Crescent Med J. 2015 Nov 29;17(11):e34181. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.34181. eCollection 2015 Nov.

Occult HCV Infection: The Current State of Knowledge.

Author information

1
Students' Research Committee, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran; Middle East Liver Diseases Center (MELD), Tehran, IR Iran.
2
Middle East Liver Diseases Center (MELD), Tehran, IR Iran.
3
Students' Research Committee, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.
4
Middle East Liver Diseases Center (MELD), Tehran, IR Iran; Kowsar Medical Institute, Heerlen, The Netherlands.
5
Middle East Liver Diseases Center (MELD), Tehran, IR Iran; Baqiyatallah Research Center for Gasteroenterology and Liver Disease (BRCGL), Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IR Iran.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Occult HCV infection (OCI) is defined as the presence of HCV-RNA in hepatocytes and the absence of HCV in the serum according to usual tests. We aimed to define OCI and provide information about the currently available diagnostic methods. Then we focus on specific groups that are at high risk of OCI and finally investigate immune responses to OCI and the available treatment approaches.

EVIDENCE ACQUISITION:

PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar were comprehensively searched with combination of following keywords: "occult", "hepatitis C virus" and "occult HCV infection". The definition of OCI, diagnostic methods, specific groups that are at high risk and available treatment approaches were extract from literature. An analysis of available articles on OCI also was done based on Scopus search results.

RESULTS:

OCI has been reported in several high-risk groups, especially in hemodialysis patients and subjects with cryptogenic liver disease. Furthermore, some studies have proposed a specific immune response for OCI in comparison with chronic hepatitis C (CHC).

CONCLUSIONS:

With a clinical history of approximately 11 years, occult HCV infection can be considered an occult type of CHC. Evidences suggest that considering OCI in these high-risk groups seems to be necessary. We suggest that alternative diagnostic tests should be applied and that there is a need for the participation of all countries to determine the epidemiology of this type of HCV infection. Additionally, evaluating OCI in blood transfusion centers and in patients who receive large amounts of blood and clotting factors, such as patients with hemophilia, should be performed in future projects.

KEYWORDS:

Hepatitis C; Knowledge; Occult infection; Review

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