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Abstract

We assessed the prevalence and clinical significance of antibodies to hepatitis C virus among a cohort of 148 patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection. Sixteen patients (11%) had anti-hepatitis C virus detectable by enzyme-linked immunoassay. The results from eight of these patients were positive by recombinant immunoblot assay. The results of recombinant immunoblot assay testing were not consistent; therefore the analysis of the patients' data was based on anti-hepatitis C virus enzyme-linked immunoassay results. Patients with chronic hepatitis B with anti-hepatitis C virus were more likely to be cirrhotic (44% vs. 21%) and to have decompensated liver disease (24% vs. 6%). Hepatitis B virus replication appeared to be suppressed in patients with both infections as measured by hepatitis B virus—associated DNA polymerase activity (mean = 2,055 vs. 2,555 cpm). Human immunodeficiency virus infection was more common in the anti-hepatitis C virus positive group (36% vs. 11%). Thus hepatitis C virus appears to suppress hepatitis B virus replication and to cause more severe liver disease in patients with chronic hepatitis B infection. (HEPATOLOGY 1991;14:64–67.)