Hepatitis C genotypes in Australian haemophilia patients
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BACKGROUND: Differences in the hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype influence the severity of HCV related liver disease and response to interferon therapy. HCV infection is frequent in Australian haemophilia patients who have been exposed repeatedly to multiple HCV genotypes through non HCV virally inactivated clotting factor concentrates. The distribution of the various HCV genotypes in Australian haemophilia patients is unknown. AIM: To examine the HCV genotype distribution and clinical features of HCV associated liver disease in Australian haemophilia patients. METHODS: Forty patients with bleeding disorders who were known to be both HCV antibody and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) positive were evaluated by direct sequencing of the PCR products for the HCV genotype. RESULTS: Genotype 1 was found in 65% of patients (26/40), type 2 in 5% (2/40) and type 3 in 30% (12/40). No genotypes 4 to 6 were found. There was no association between the HCV genotype and the severity of haemophilia, alanine transaminase levels, or the presence of portal hypertension. Unlike European, Asian and American studies where the majority of type 1 infection is subclass 1b, in Australian haemophilia patients it is subclass 1a (73%-19/26) which may have a better prognosis and response to interferon. CONCLUSIONS: Despite patients with haemophilia being exposed to multiple HCV genotypes, it appears that there is no selection advantage of one genotype over another. Australian haemophilia patients with HCV have a different genotype distribution to that reported in other countries and care should be observed in interpreting non Australian studies concerning HCV.
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