Effects of interferon treatment on hepatitis C virus were examined by investigating the presence of hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid and anti-hepatitis C virus antibody in 70 patients with non-A, non-B chronic liver diseases. Twenty one patients were treated with three million units of interferon alfa 2a three times a week for 52 weeks, 24 patients were treated similarly for eight weeks, and 25 patients were given a placebo for eight weeks and served as control. Sixty six of 70 patients (94%) were positive for both hepatitis C virus RNA and second generation anti-hepatitis C virus antibody. Fourteen of 21 (67%) receiving the longterm treatment had a normalised alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity, and in 12 of these hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid became undetectable by the end of treatment and remained so during the three year follow up after the treatment. Anti-hepatitis C virus antibody determined by first generation assay became negative in one case at the end of the 52 week treatment, and in four cases at the end of the one year follow up. In contrast, only one of 24 (4%) who received the eight week treatment and only one of 25 (4%) who received the placebo had normalised ALT activities. Hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid became negative in two patients undergoing short-term treatment and in none receiving the placebo. Thus, longterm interferon treatment seems effective in clearing hepatitis C virus from serum of patients with chronic liver disease.
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