Hepatitis C at the Israeli National Hemophilia Center


Yaakov Maor MD, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Sheba Medical Center, Tel-Hashomer, Israel. Tel.: 972-3-5302694; fax: 972-3-5303160; e-mail: yaakov@sheba.health.gov.il


Summary.  Haemophilia patients who received non-virucidally treated large pool clotting factors before 1987 have a high rate of chronic hepatitis C viral infection (HCV). Some patients are coinfected with HIV. Haemophilia patients and other coagulation disorders were treated at one centre since the beginning of the 1970, and the Israeli National Hemophilia Center (INHC) was officially founded in 1987. To characterize patients with HCV as well as patients with HCV/HIV coinfection at the INHC. Patients with haemophilia and other coagulation disorders positive for HCV antibodies were evaluated between 2001 and 2004. Demographic data, type and severity of coagulation disorder, frequency of coagulation factor usage and treatment with concentrated clotting factors prior to 1987 were recorded. Liver enzymes, viral load, genotype and data supporting advanced liver disease were evaluated. About 179 of 239 haemophilia patients (75%) tested positive for anti-HCV antibodies. Our cohort consisted of 165 patients in whom clinical, biochemical and virological data were available. About 117 patients had active HCV infection with HCV-RNA-positive, and 27 were HCV/HIV coinfected. Twenty-one patients (13%) persistently tested HCV-RNA-negative, hence were considered to clear their HCV infection. There was no former USSR immigrants among HCV/HIV coinfected compared with HCV-infected or HCV-RNA-negative groups (0 vs. 30% and 38%, respectively; P < 0.001). HCV-RNA-negative patients used concentrated coagulation factor less frequently than HCV or HCV/HIV-infected patients (48% vs. 73%; P = 0.023, and 48% vs. 74%; P = 0.043, respectively). The use of concentrated clotting factors before 1987 was significantly more frequent in HCV/HIV than in either HCV-infected or HCV-RNA-negative patients (96% vs. 49% and 48%, respectively; P < 0.001). Compared with HCV/HIV subjects, patients with HCV monoinfection were characterized by a higher proportion of infection with genotype 1 (80% vs. 61%; P = 0.027). The rate of persistently normal liver enzymes in these patients was higher (24% vs. 7%; P = 0.05) than in the HCV/HIV-coinfected patients. Advanced liver disease was significantly more common in patients with HCV/HIV-coinfection than in HCV-monoinfected patients (11% vs. 3%; P = 0.045). The majority of haemophilia patients are infected with HCV. Viral clearance occurred in a minority of these patients. HCV monoinfected and HCV/HIV coinfected differ clinically and prognostically.