Hepatitis C: Should patients receive immunizations


Topic: Hepatitis C, June 2000

Dr. Lee:
What about immunization for hepatitis A and hepatitis B in patients who are found to have Hepatitis C infection?

Dr. Edward Block:
That is important because patients who already have liver damage from hepatitis C cannot afford any further damage to their livers. (Hepatitis A and hepatitis B virus infections can both damage the liver).

In a patient with chronic hepatitis C, additional infection with either hepatitis A or B virus can cause serious and life threatening liver damage. The liver damage can be much more severe than subjects who do not have hepatitis C.

Therefore it is generally recommended that patients with hepatitis C get vaccinated for both hepatitis A and hepatitis B, so that they can be protected against infections by these viruses.

Dr. Lee:
The mortality rate of acute hepatitis A infection in patients with hepatitis C can be quite high, am I correct?

Dr. Edward Block:
Right, it is rare for hepatitis A infection to cause actual death in otherwise healthy subjects. But in patients with hepatitis C, there is a 10 to 20-fold increase in risk of death with hepatitis A infection.

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