Alimentary Disease

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March 12-13
3rd Annual Viral Hepatitis in Drug Discovery & Development World Summit
March 27-30
Viral Hepatitis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Asia

Interferon alpha therapy for hepatitis C: treatment completion and response rates among patients with substance use disorders

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Marilyn S Huckans, Jennifer M Loftis, Aaron D Blackwell, Alex Linke and Peter Hauser

Background Individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) are at increased risk for hepatitis C viral infection (HCV), and few studies have explored their treatment responses empirically. The objective of this study was to assess interferon alpha therapy (IFN) completion and response rates among patients with HCV who had a history of comorbid SUDs.

Results Odds ratio analyses revealed that compared with the SUD- Group, the SUD+ Group was equally likely to complete IFN therapy if they had genotypes 2 and 3 (73.1% vs. 68.0%), and if they had genotypes 1 and 4 (39.5% vs. 39.9%). Within the sample of all patients who began IFN therapy, the SUD- and SUD+ groups were similarly likely to achieve an end of treatment response (genotypes 2 and 3, 52.8% vs. 54.3%; genotypes 1 and 4, 24.5% vs. 24.8%) and a sustained viral response (genotypes 2 and 3, 42.6% vs. 41.1%; genotypes 1 and 4: 16.0% vs. 22.3%).

Conclusion Individuals with and without a history of SUD responded to antiviral therapy for HCV at similar rates. Collectively, these findings suggest that patients who have co-morbid SUD and HCV diagnoses can successfully complete a course of antiviral therapy.

Molecular analysis of hepatitis B virus "a" determinant in asymptomatic and symptomatic Mexican carriers

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MMartha-Eugenia Ruiz-Tachiquín, Hilda-Alicia Valdez-Salazar, Vicencio Juárez-Barreto , Margarita Dehesa-Violante, Javier Torres, Onofre Muñoz-Hernández and Ma-Teresa Alvarez-Muñoz

Background Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a small DNA-containing virus with 4 genes, C, S, X and P. The S gene codes for the surface antigen (HBsAg), which contains the "a" determinant, the main region for induction of a protective humoral immune response. To compare the genotype and sequence of the "a" determinant between strains isolated from asymptomatic and symptomatic Mexican HBV carriers.

Results 21 asymptomatic (blood donors) and 12 symptomatic (with clinical signs and with >1 year lamivudine treatment) HBV carriers were studied; all patients were positive for the HBsAg in serum. Viral load, genotypes, and subtypes were determined in plasma. A fragment of the S gene including the "a" determinant was PCR amplified and sequenced to determine genotype, subtype and to identify mutations. Mean viral load was 0.7965 × 104 copies/ml in asymptomatic carriers and 2.73 × 106 copies/ml in symptomatic patients. Genotypes H, C, and F were identified in asymptomatic individuals; whereas H was dominant in symptomatic patients. A fragment of 279 bp containing the "a" determinant was amplified from all 33 carriers and sequences aligned with S gene sequences in the GenBank. Mutations identified were Y100N, T126I, Q129H and N146K in the asymptomatic group, and F93I and A128V in the symptomatic group.

Conclusion Differences in genotype and in mutations in the "a" determinant were found between strains from asymptomatic and symptomatic HBV Mexican carriers.

Seroprevalence of human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B and C viruses and syphilis infections among blood donors at the Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

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Mecky IN Matee, Pius M Magesa and Eligius F Lyamuya

Background According to the latest Tanzanian National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) report a total of 147,271 individuals donated blood during the year 2002. However, blood safety remains an issue of major concern in transfusion medicine in Tanzania where national blood transfusion services and policies, appropriate infrastructure, trained personnel and financial resources are inadequate. Most of the donated blood is screened for HIV alone.

Results Two hundred and fifty four (15.9%) of the donated blood had serological evidence of infection with at least one pathogen and 28 (1.8%) had multiple infections. The current seroprevalence of HIV, HBsAg, HCV and syphilis among blood donors at MNH in Dar es Salaam was found to be 3.8%, 8.8%, 1.5% and 4.7%, respectively. Respective seroprevalences among HIV seronegative blood donors were 8.7% for HBV, 1.6% for HCV and 4.6% for syphilis. The differences in the prevalence of HIV and syphilis infections between replacement and voluntary donors were statistically significant (P < 0.05). Syphilis was the only infection that occurred more frequently among HIV infected (12.1%) than non-infected (4.6%) blood donors (P < 0.05), and whose prevalence increased with age (X2 = 58.5 df = 5, P < 0.001). There were no significant sex differences in the occurrence of pathogens. Finally, there were significant associations in the occurrence of HBsAg and syphilis (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.1.-4.2) and HIV and syphilis (OR = 2.2, 95% CI 1.0–5.3).

Conclusion The high (15.9%) seroprevalence of blood-borne infections in blood donated at MNH calls for routine screening of blood donors for HBV, HCV, HIV and syphilis and for strict selection criteria of donors, with emphasis on getting young voluntary donors and for establishment of strict guidelines for blood transfusions.
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From Digestive and Liver Disease

Is there a downgrading in the alert about the hepatitis B virus infection in Italy?

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Hepatitis B Article
  • Background and aim There is suspicion of a decrease in warning regarding the hepatitis B virus as a health problem both by the infected individuals and their doctors. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the clinical/virology investigation of chronic hepatitis B virus infected individuals is at present accurate.

  • Conclusions This study revealed that fundamental clinical, virological, and epidemiological aspects of chronic hepatitis B virus infection are not investigated in many hepatitis B virus surface antigen carriers, suggesting that the general knowledge as regards hepatitis B virus is mostly inadequate.

  Prescribing Update
Current Algorithm for the Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis B
Emmet B Keeffe, MD, MACP
Stanford University School of Medicine

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