Chronic hepatitis C infection is a risk factor for both the development of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma.
Globally, approximately 170 million people are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), and the majority of these individuals come from the western Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.
Chronic Hepatitis C is an understudied and underappreciated health problem in many Asian countries and in the US, where Asians represent one of the fastest growing groups of new Americans.
Drs Nguyen and Nguyen from California, USA performed a systematic review of the current literature on the epidemiology, diagnosis and screening, clinical characteristics and response to anti-viral therapy of Asians with chronic HCV.
|Asian patients respond better to anti-viral therapy than non-Asians across all HCV genotypes|
|Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics|
Using a PubMed search of ‘hepatitis C’ and ‘Asia,’ 341 original manuscripts published in peer-reviewed journals were identified, and 99 were selected based on their relevance.
The research team report that many Asian chronic Hepatitis C patients do not have easily identifiable risk factors, and may be underdiagnosed.
Rates of HCV infection in Asians on community screening in the US are unexpectedly high, and there is a high prevalence of HCV genotype 6 in Southeast Asia and Southern China.
The team found that HCV-infected Asians tend to present at older age, and may have higher risk of hepatocellular carcinoma.
However, the researchers observed that they respond better to anti-viral therapy than non-Asians across all HCV genotypes.
Dr Nguyen's team commented, "Given the high HCV endemicity in Asia, lack of identifiable risk factors and favorable treatment response rates in Asians, we advocate the screening for HCV infection of all Asians who come from areas where HCV prevalence is 2% or more."