Treatment of chronic hepatitis C in Croatian war veterans: experiences from Croatian reference center for viral hepatitis

Papić, Neven; Lepej, Snježana Židovec; Kurelac, Ivan; čajić, Vjeran; Budimirt, Jelena; Dušek, Davorka; Vince, Adriana
February 2011
Croatian Medical Journal;Feb2011, Vol. 52 Issue 1, p35
Academic Journal
Aim To examine the risk factors, comorbidity, severity of liver disease, treatment course, and outcome in Croatian war veterans with chronic hepatitis C, especially those suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Methods We collected medical records of 170 adult men diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C who started treatment with a combination of pegylated interferon-alpha and ribavirin between January 2003 and June 2009 at the Croatian Reference Centre for Viral Hepatitis. Results Participants' mean age was 43±9 years. Among 170 participants, there were 37 war veterans (22%). The main risk factor in veteran patients were operative procedures with transfusions (46% vs 5% in non-veterans; P<0.001) and in non-veteran patients intravenous drug use (42.1% vs 13%; P<0.001).The average duration of infection was longer in war veterans (14.5±3.4 vs 12.2±7.2 years; P=0.020). The percentage of PTSD comorbidity in the whole group was 11% (18/170) and in the war veterans group 49% (18/37). The prevalence of sustained virological response in patients with PTSD was 50% and in patients without PTSD 56%. Treatment reduction in patients with PTSD (33%) was higher than in patients without PTSD (12%; P=0.030). Conclusion Croatian war veterans are a group with high risk of chronic hepatitis C infection because many of them were wounded during the Croatian War 1991-1 995. Considerations about PTSD as a contraindication for interferon treatment are unjustified. If treated, patients with PTSD have an equal chance of achieving sustained virological response as patients without PTSD.


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