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Hepatitis C and Kidney Transplantation

Approximately 10% to 49% of kidney transplant recipients have antibodies for hepatitis C in their blood. Chronic HCV infection in these individuals appears to carry twice the risk of a serious post-transplant infection, compared to kidney transplant patients who do not test positive for HCV antibodies. However, there is no data indicating that HCV-infected kidney transplant recipients have a higher rate of transplant rejection or death.

Pegylated interferon-based treatment is not recommended for HCV-infected kidney transplant recipients, because the treatment puts them at a high risk for transplant rejection. Sometimes these patients are treated before receiving a transplant.

As in the general population, co-infection with both hepatitis C and hepatitis B appears to hasten disease progression in kidney transplant patients, increasing their risk of liver failure and death.

Hepatitis C and Hemodialysis

Hemodialysis patients have become infected with hepatitis C through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and, possibly, though hemodialysis equipment. On average, 20% of hemodialysis patients have HCV.

Chronic HCV infection appears to accelerate the progression of kidney disease in hemodialysis patients.

With regard to the progression to liver disease, again, these patients appear to be more affected by co-infection with both HBV and HCV than HCV alone.

Hepatitis C and Diabetes

Although the association is poorly understood, there appears to be a connection between hepatitis C and diabetes. One study reported that people with diabetes had four-times the rate of HCV infection than those without diabetes.

Another study reported that of 100 patients with cirrhosis, 34 had HCV infection. Of those, 17 (50%) had concurrent diabetes. Of the 66 HCV-free patients, only six (9%) had concurrent diabetes. Additional studies substantiate that diabetes is more prevalent in people with HCV infection than in people with other liver diseases -- even when a family medical history and other risk factors for diabetes are considered.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on July 16, 2014
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