Alejandro Soza, Marco Arrese, Robinson González, Manuel Alvarez, Rosa María Pérez, Pablo Cortés, Alejandro Patillo, Arnoldo Riquelme, Juan-Carlos Glasinovic
Prevalence, modes of transmission, clinical characteristics and outcomes of hepatitis C (HCV) infection vary in different geographical areas. We aim to describe clinical and epidemiological features of Chilean patients infected with hepatitis C virus. An analysis of demographic, epidemiological, clinical and laboratory data of patients referred to a liver clinic and blood donors with chronic hepatitis C was carried out. 147 patients were evaluated, 68 (46%) were male. Median age was 56 years, median infection age was 27 years and median duration of infection was 27 years. 52.5% of the patients were cirrhotic, and estimated risk of progression to cirrhosis was 16% at 20 years from infection. Risk factors for acquisition of the disease among patients were: Blood transfusion 54%, injection drug use 5%, and risky sexual behavior 2%. No factor was identified in 43% of the patients. Twelve of 64 (18.8%) family members tested positive for HCV antibodies. Genotype 1b was predominant (82%), and 52% of patients had high viral load (>850.000 IU/ mL). Liver biopsy was available in 50 patients, showing advanced fibrosis in 54%. These patients were in average 10 years older and tended to have longer duration of infection. Hepatocellular carcinoma was present at the moment of enrollment in 7 patients and developed in 4 more patients during follow up (2.4 years). In conclusion, the natural history and clinical characteristics of HCV infection in Chilean patients is similar to that described elsewhere. The main risk factor was blood transfusion. A significant proportion of patients had advanced liver disease or hepatocellular carcinoma at time of diagnosis.
Key words. Fibrosis, cirrhosis, therapy, interferon, ribavirin, South America, hepatocellular carcinoma