Background: The study aimed to evaluate the risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection on hepatic and extrahepatic deaths.
Methods: A cohort of 23 820 adults aged 30-65 years old were enrolled during 1991-1992. The seromarkers hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), anti-HCV, and serum HCV RNA levels at study entry were tested. The vital status was ascertained through computerized linkage with national death certification profiles from 1991 to 2008.
Results: There were 19,636 HBsAg-seronegatives, including 18,541 anti-HCV seronegatives and 1095 anti-HCV seropositives. Among anti-HCV seropositives, 69.4% had detectable serum HCV RNA levels. There were 2394 deaths that occurred during an average follow-up period of 16.2 years. Compared with anti-HCV seronegatives, anti-HCV seropositives had higher mortality from both hepatic and extrahepatic diseases, showing multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) of 1.89 (1.66-2.15) for all causes of death; 12.48 (9.34-16.66) for hepatic diseases; 1.35 (1.15-1.57) for extrahepatic diseases; 1.50 (1.10-2.03) for circulatory diseases; 2.77 (1.49-5.15) for nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis; 4.08 (1.38-12.08) for esophageal cancer; 4.19 (1.18-14.94) for prostate cancer; and 8.22 (1.36-49.66) for thyroid cancer. Anti-HCV seropositives with detectable HCV RNA levels had significantly higher mortality from hepatic and extrahepatic diseases than anti-HCV seropositives with undetectable HCV RNA.
Conclusions: Monitoring HCV RNA in anti-HCV seropositives is essential for the prediction of mortality associated with hepatitis C.