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Keywords:

  • chronic hepatitis C;
  • genotype 2;
  • peginterferon;
  • ribavirin;
  • sustained virological response

Abstract

Background: It remains unclear how we can shorten the treatment duration of antiviral combination therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin for patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2 infection who achieved a rapid virological response (RVR).

Aim: We compared the efficacy of antiviral combination therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin for 8 vs. 24 weeks for the treatment of patients with HCV genotype 2 infection and with RVR.

Methods: Sixty-one patients were enrolled. Serum HCV RNA was not detected at 4 weeks after the start of treatment in 32 patients with an RVR. These 32 patients were randomly assigned to 8-week (n=15) or 24-week (n=17) treatment regimens. Patients in the 8-week group who relapsed underwent a 24-week retreatment.

Results: No significant difference in patient characteristics was observed between the 8- and the 24-week treatment groups. A sustained virological response (SVR) was seen in five of 15 patients (33.3%) in the 8-week treatment group and 14 of 17 (82.4%) in the 24-week treatment group; the rate was significantly higher in the 24-week treatment group (P=0.0140). Nine of 10 relapsed patients in the 8-week treatment group underwent a 24-week retreatment, and seven achieved an SVR.

Conclusion: An 8-week regimen of combination antiviral therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin yielded an increase in the relapse rate, indicating the limitation of a reduction of treatment below 12 weeks in patients with genotype 2, after RVR.