Long-term follow-up among Danish transfusion recipients identified in the national hepatitis C lookback

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In 1996, a national lookback study was performed in Denmark identifying 1018 patients exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) by transfusion before 1991. The objective of this study was to describe morbidity and mortality during extended follow-up among patients in the Danish HCV lookback cohort alive in 1996.


In a retrospective cohort study of 230 patients exposed to HCV by blood transfusion and alive in 1996 we extracted data from national registers and compared these with a matched group of unexposed transfusion recipients.


Among 230 HCV-exposed recipients alive in 1996, 124 (53.9%) had chronic hepatitis C, 43 (18.7%) were not infected, and 63 (27.4%) had incomplete HCV data. In 2009, 121 (52.6%) were still alive a median of 21.8 years after transfusion. The mortality rate among the HCV-exposed recipients followed from 1996 was 4.9 per 100 person-years (PY). The incidence of liver cirrhosis and decompensated cirrhosis was 1.0 per 100 PY and 0.4 per 100 PY, respectively; 16.5% had cirrhosis at death. Among HCV-exposed recipients, no difference in all-cause or liver-related mortality was observed between HCV-infected and HCV-uninfected recipients. Further, there was no difference in mortality between HCV-exposed and -unexposed transfusion recipients (mortality rate ratio [MRR], 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.96-1.17; p = 0.47), but liver-related mortality was significantly higher among HCV-exposed patients (MRR, 10.0; 95% CI, 7.20-17.7; p < 0.001).


Two decades after exposure to blood products from HCV-infected donors, only 121(11.8%) of 1018 recipients remained alive. For HCV-exposed recipients no excess all-cause mortality was observed, but liver-related mortality was significantly increased.

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