Studies have reported a lower response rate to interferon alpha in black patients with chronic hepatitis C infection than in white patients.
It has been suggested that increased prevalence of infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 may be the cause of this reduced respose. HCV genotype 1 has a lower response rate than other HCV genotypes.
In this study, physicians from the United States treated 100 black patients and 100 non-Hispanic white patients with chronic hepatitis C using peginterferon alpha-2b and ribavirin for 48 weeks.
The team ensured that the 2 groups had a similar proportion of patients with genotype 1 infection.
|Black race was the only variable significantly associated with the difference in response rate.|
|New England Journal of Medicine|
Sustained virologic response was defined as a negative test for serum HCV RNA 6 months after the completion of therapy.
The physicians found that 98% of patients in each cohort had genotype 1 infection.
However, they found that the rate of sustained virologic response was higher in non-Hispanic white patients (52%) than in black patients (19%).
They determined that black patients also had significantly lower rates of virologic response at 12 weeks and at the end of treatment.
Furthermore, multivariable analyses found that black race was the only variable significantly associated with the difference in response rate.
Dr Andrew Muir and colleagues concluded, "Black patients with chronic hepatitis C have a lower rate of response to treatment with peginterferon alpha-2b and ribavirin than non-Hispanic white patients, a difference that is not explained by differences in the viral genotype".