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Current Studies in Haematology and Blood Transfusion. Volume 62. Hepatitis C Virus

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    Current Studies in Haematology and Blood Transfusion. Volume 62. Hepatitis C Virus. 2nd edition. Edited by Reesink HW. (Pp 270; $172.25.) Basel: Karger, 1998. ISBN 3-8055-6542-9.

    In just under a decade since the hepatitis C virus was first discovered the proliferation of research publications has been overwhelming. Although this is an appropriate reflection of the prevalence and clinical importance of the disease it has unfortunately created a confusing situation for clinicians and scientists outside the field. As a hepatologist I tend to feel that hepatitis C virus belongs in my domain but in reality, of course, the virus impacts on a number of medical specialists. It should not therefore have been a complete surprise to encounter a book on the subject which is part of a series on haematology and blood transfusion.

    The editor of this book has assembled a strong field of contributors who are recognisably experts on the areas which they have been asked to review. The selection of topics is comprehensive and covers everything from molecular biology and immunology to natural history and treatment.

    In order to justify my free copy of the book I feel that it is necessary to point out some minor criticisms. Given the high prevalence of this infection and its variable outcome, I felt that the chapter on natural history of infection could have been a bit longer. I also feel that although the summaries of clinical trials are thorough it would have been helpful to have included, at the end of the treatment chapter, a recommendation on best current clinical practice. Of course I realise that this is changing all the time but as this book is already on its second edition we presumably can expect an update in reasonable time.

    As I mentioned before this book is concise and comprehensive. This combination usually implies that it would also be unreadable but this is not the case. Inevitably a lot of detail has been edited away from the concise summaries but this is counterbalanced by excellent referencing which guides the interested reader to key publications in the literature.

    I am not really sure at whom this book was originally aimed but I have my own ideas about who would benefit from having a copy on their bookshelf. I recommend this book to the specialist registrars who are starting in the viral hepatitis clinic and to PhD students who are beginning their hepatitis C research in the laboratory. For the general gastroenterologist it would certainly provide a more accessible source of background information than other textbooks I have read.

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