Occult and Overt HBV Co-Infections Independently Predict Postoperative Prognosis in HCV-Associated Hepatocellular Carcinoma
The published study below looked at the relationship between occult HBV and chronic hepatitis C infection. Occult HBV occurs after someone resolves HBV infection, but a portion of the HBV genome is still in the body. A test would report it as negative for HBV infection. Up until this study little was known about the effect of occult HBV on liver disease progression in someone with chronic hepatitis C. The study period used to identify the participants was from 1991 to 2000. The study participants in the study were followed for a median period of 11 years. The authors found that having occult HBV and chronic hepatitis C infection lead to a significantly higher rate of cirrhosis, liver cancer and death. The authors also reported that a non-response to HCV therapy was "significantly associated with lower survival."
Unfortunately, at this time there is not a test (other than a liver biopsy) to diagnose occult HBV. The limitation of the study was that it was conducted in Taiwan—a region that has a very high rate of HBV. This could potentially affect the high rate of occult HBV infection identified. Still, if this study is replicated it could lead to more information that will help the person with hepatitis C and their medical provider improve the care and treatment of chronic hepatitis C. One positive outcome of the study was that achieving a viral cure reduced the harmful effects of occult HBV on HCV disease progression. This is another important issue that should be factored into the decision making process. –AF