Levels of hepatitis C virus higher among African-Americans and males

July 10, 2012

Epidemiologists have determined that levels of hepatitis C virus (HCV) found among injection drug users (IDUs) were higher in individuals who are male or African American even after differences in other factors were considered. The study, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute and performed with collaborators from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and the University of California - San Francisco, was the first to simultaneously examine the association of demographic, viral and human genetic factors on HCV RNA levels. Results of the study published in the July issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), also showed higher levels of HCV among IDUs who were co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

A 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to 3.9 million Americans have chronic HCV—a leading cause of liver cancer, end-stage liver disease and liver transplantation. According to the CDC 17,000 new cases and 2,800 acute cases of HCV were reported in 2010. Previous epidemiologic studies suggest one-third of those 18 to 30 year-old IDUs and up to 90% of older IDUs are infected with HCV.

"With such a high incidence and prevalence of infection among IDUs, it is important to understand the characteristics of the infection in this group," explains lead author Dr. Thomas O'Brien of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the in Rockville, MD. "The HCV RNA level is an important predictor of response to treatment in patients with chronic . Our study is the first to examine simultaneously the viral, demographic, and genetic factors that impact HCV levels in ethnically diverse IDUs."

Participants were originally recruited for the Urban Health Study—a multi-ethnic group of IDUs in San Francisco. Researchers used interview data and biological samples from participants to analyze demographic, viral and host characteristics of cancer-causing viruses. A total of 1701 participants had detectable HCV RNA and were included in the present study. The median age at enrollment was 46 years and median age of first illicit drug injection was 18 years. Close to 75% of participants were men and 56% were African American, 34% European (non-Hispanic) and 7% Latino (non-African American).

Adjusted analysis revealed that age, gender, racial ancestry, HIV-1 infection, and IL28B rs12979860 genotype were all independently associated with the level. "We know that the level of HCV is an important predictor of treatment response and that these levels seem to be influenced by a number of demographic, clinical, viral and human genetic factors," concludes Dr. O'Brien.

Explore further: Severity of hepatitis C and HIV co-infection in mothers contribute to HCV transmission to child

More information: "HCV RNA Levels in a Multi-Ethnic Cohort of Injection Drug Users:Human Genetic, Viral and Demographic Associations." Lorenzo Uccellini, Fan-Chen Tseng, Alessandro Monaco, Fatma M. Shebl, Ruth Pfeiffer, Myhanh Dotrang, Dianna Buckett, Michael P. Busch, Ena Wang, Brian R. Edlin, Francesco Marincola, Thomas R. O'Brien. Hepatology; (DOI: 10.1002/hep.25652); Print Issue Date: July, 2012.

Related Stories

Severity of hepatitis C and HIV co-infection in mothers contribute to HCV transmission to child

April 27, 2011
New research shows that high maternal viral load and co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are the only risk factors associated with vertical transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV-VT). A variation in the ...

Green tea flavonoid may prevent reinfection with hepatitis C virus following liver transplantation

December 1, 2011
German researchers have determined that epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG)—a flavonoid found in green tea—inhibits the hepatitis C virus (HCV) from entering liver cells. Study findings available in the December issue ...

Recommended for you

Groundbreaking investigative effort identifies gonorrhea vaccine candidates

September 19, 2017
Researchers at Oregon State University have identified a pair of proteins that show promise as the basis for a gonorrhea vaccine.

Snail fever progression linked to nitric oxide production

September 14, 2017
Bilharzia, caused by a parasitic worm found in freshwater called Schistosoma, infects around 200 million people globally and its advance can lead to death, especially in children in developing countries.

Systems analysis points to links between Toxoplasma infection and common brain diseases

September 13, 2017
More than 2 billion people - nearly one out of every three humans on earth, including about 60 million people in the United States - have a lifelong infection with the brain-dwelling parasite Toxoplasma gondii.

Study clears important hurdle toward developing an HIV vaccine

September 13, 2017
An international team of researchers has demonstrated a way of overcoming one of the major stumbling blocks that has prevented the development of a vaccine against HIV: the ability to generate immune cells that stay in circulation ...

As 'flesh-eating' Leishmania come closer, a vaccine against them does, too

September 13, 2017
Parasites that ulcerate the skin, can disfigure the face, and may fatally mutilate its victim's internal organs are creeping closer to the southern edges of the United States.

Promising clinical trial results could give doctors a new tool against drug-resistant strains of malaria parasite

September 13, 2017
Tulane University researchers have developed a new drug that is effective against non-severe cases of malaria, according to results from an FDA-supervised clinical trial published in the latest issue of The Lancet Infectious ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.