B Willems

Université de Montréal, Montréal, Quebec, Canada

Are you B Willems?

Claim your profile

Publications (37)274.2 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) rates have decreased steadily in first-time donors in Canada since testing was implemented but reasons are unclear. A description of factors that may have played a role in this decline is reported. Descriptive analysis of first-time blood donors by HCV positivity status and year (1993--2006), sex, and age was carried out. HCV-positive first-time donors and matched controls participated in a confidential scripted telephone interview about risk factors in 1993 through 1994 and in 2005 through 2006, and risk factors independently predicting HCV positivity were determined with multiple logistic regression. HCV-positive donations occurred most frequently in donors born between 1945 and 1964 and decreased in this birth cohort over time (p < 0.01). At present, most first-time donors (74%) are born after 1964. History of intravenous drug use, sex with an intravenous drug user, blood transfusion, and tattoo independently predicted (p < 0.01) HCV positivity in both periods (1993--1994 and 2005--2006). Most HCV-positive donors were born between 1945 and 1964, and the decline in HCV rates is associated primarily with this birth cohort. The key risk factors predicting HCV positivity did not change over the 13 years of the study. With approximately two-thirds of HCV-positive Canadians in the general population having been tested for HCV, potential donors may be aware of their HCV status and be likely to self-defer. This, and an increasing proportion of first-time donors born after 1964, may contribute to declining HCV rates in first-time donors.
    Transfusion 06/2008; 48(5):902-9. · 3.57 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to assess the impact of fatigue on the quality of life of patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and to examine its relationship with various parameters of the disease, including viral load. The Fatigue Impact Scale (FIS), a self-report questionnaire, was applied to 92 patients with CHC, and the results were compared to those of an age-matched cohort of 213 healthy blood donors. Fatigue was frequent and disabling, being present in 67% of CHC patients, and the FIS was significantly increased in CHC patients compared to the healthy controls. Fatigue severity was not correlated with the activity of the disease or with the level of viremia. The FIS proved to be a valuable tool to assess this symptom. It should be of help for better evaluation of the clinical spectrum of the disease and should be included in trials assessing the efficacy of therapeutic interventions.
    Digestive Diseases and Sciences 01/2003; 47(12):2674-81. · 2.55 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is a new therapeutic modality for variceal bleeding. In this study we compared the two year survival and rebleeding rates in cirrhotic patients treated by either variceal band ligation or TIPS for variceal bleeding. Eighty cirrhotic patients (Pugh score 7-12) with variceal bleeding were randomly allocated to TIPS (n=41) or ligation (n=39), 24 hours after control of bleeding. Mean follow up was 581 days in the ligation group and 678 days in the TIPS group. The two year survival rate was 57% in the TIPS group and 56% in the ligation group (NS); the incidence of variceal rebleeding after two years was 18% in the TIPS group and 66% in the ligation group (p<0.001). Uncontrolled rebleeding occurred in 11 patients in the ligation group (eight were rescued by emergency TIPS) but in none of the TIPS group. The incidence of encephalopathy at two years was 47% in the TIPS group and 44% in the ligation group (NS). TIPS did not increase the two year survival rate compared with variceal band ligation after variceal bleeding in cirrhotic patients with moderate or severe liver failure. It significantly reduced the incidence of variceal rebleeding without increasing the rate of encephalopathy.
    Gut 03/2001; 48(3):390-6. · 13.32 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: A patient who underwent orthotopic liver transplantation for giant cell hepatitis with cirrhosis and in whom giant cell hepatitis recurred twice after orthotopic liver transplantation is reported. He was treated with ribavirin with an excellent result. The literature on this subject is reviewed. This observation clearly confirms the efficacy of ribavirin for the treatment of giant cell hepatitis, thus providing evidence for its viral origin.
    Canadian journal of gastroenterology = Journal canadien de gastroenterologie 10/2000; 14(8):729-31. · 1.97 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The prognosis of decompensated cirrhosis resulting from chronic hepatitis B is poor, and the benefits of treatment with interferon are outweighed by serious side effects and by the risk of fatal exacerbation of disease activity. Lamivudine rapidly reduces hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA in serum to undetectable levels. We have treated 35 patients with chronic hepatitis B and decompensated cirrhosis with lamivudine 100 mg or 150 mg orally once daily. Pretreatment, all were positive for HBV-DNA in serum. Ten had Child-Pugh class B and 25 had Child-Pugh class C liver disease. Seven patients underwent liver transplantation within 6 months of treatment initiation, 5 patients died within 6 months, and 23 patients were treated for at least 6 months (mean = 19 months). In a majority of these 23 cases, there was a slow but marked improvement in liver function, which was most apparent after 9 months of treatment, with a decrease in serum bilirubin from 67 +/- 13 to 30 +/- 4 micromol/L (P <.05, baseline vs. 9 months), an increase in serum albumin from 27 +/- 1 to 34 +/- 1g/L (P <.05), and a decrease in Child-Pugh score from 10.3 +/- 0.4 to 7.5 +/- 0.5 (P <.05). Three patients developed resistance to lamivudine because of a mutation in the YMDD motif, but liver function did not deteriorate. We conclude that inhibition of viral replication with lamivudine results in a significant improvement of liver function in patients with decompensated HBV cirrhosis, but the long-term benefits remain uncertain.
    Hepatology 01/2000; 31(1):207-10. · 11.19 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We have prospectively studied 13 episodes of spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) in 12 patients treated with cefotaxime (CTX) 2 g intravenously every 8 h (mean duration, 5.3 days). Ascitic fluid was inoculated at the bedside. The cultures were done before, during (day 3 after CTX initiation), and 48-72 h (mean, 56 h) after the end of therapy. All SBP episodes were monomicrobial. During treatment, the concentrations of CTX and desacetyl-cefotaxime (d-CTX) in ascitic fluid were high in all 13 SBP episodes, and d-CTX was still present in 6 patients who had residual ascitic bactericidal titer (ABT) activity after the last dose of CTX. ABTs were >/=1:128 during CTX therapy in 12 episodes and were measurable in 7 patients after the last dose. All patients were cured. The present study provides scientific rationale to the clinical studies that suggest treating SBP episodes with lower doses of antibiotics and shorter treatment duration.
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 12/1999; 180(5):1597-602. · 5.78 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE) is a rare cause of chronic bleeding in cirrhotic patients. Treatment of GAVE with surgical or nonsurgical portal decompression, beta-blockers, or endoscopic therapy provides disappointing results. In the present study, we evaluated the efficacy of estrogen-progesterone therapy, which has been reported to control chronic bleeding in gastrointestinal vascular malformations, such as Osler-Weber Rendu disease or angiodysplasia, in GAVE-related chronic bleeding. Six cirrhotic patients who bled chronically from GAVE were included. Three had alcoholic cirrhosis, two cryptogenic cirrhosis, and one primary biliary cirrhosis. Grade 1 esophageal varices were noted in four patients. Bleeding could not be controlled by beta-blockers, and endoscopic therapy was not considered given the extension of the antral vascular lesions. Before the start of therapy, transfusion requirements averaged 3.5 units/month over a 1.5-11 month period of observation. Patients were then treated with a combination of ethynil estradiol 30 microg and noretisterone 1.5 mg daily. During follow-up (range 3-12 months), bleeding did not recur in four patients; in one patient, treatment with estrogen progesterone decreased the need for transfusions from 4 units/month to 1.4 unit/month; this patient stopped the treatment inadvertently after 6 months and severe anemia recurred with a need for 4 units of blood in the following month; reintroduction of the treatment resulted in an increase of hemoglobin levels without the need for blood transfusions during the following 4 months. In the last patient, a 5-month treatment did not improve chronic bleeding. The present study suggests that estrogen-progesterone therapy is useful in the treatment of chronic bleeding related to GAVE; however, these findings require confirmation by a controlled trial.
    The American Journal of Gastroenterology 11/1999; 94(10):2909-11. · 9.21 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Portal hypertensive gastropathy and gastric antral vascular ectasia (GAVE) are increasingly recognised as separate entities. The pathogenic role of portal hypertension for the development of GAVE is still controversial. To evaluate the effects of portal decompression on chronic bleeding related to GAVE in cirrhotic patients. Eight patients with cirrhosis and chronic blood loss related to GAVE were included. GAVE was defined endoscopically and histologically. All patients had severe portal hypertension (mean portocaval gradient (PCG) 26 mm Hg) and chronic low grade bleeding. Seven patients underwent transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) and one had an end to side portacaval shunt. Rebleeding occurred in seven patients. In these, TIPS was found to be occluded after 15 days in one patient; in the other six, the shunt was patent and the PCG was below 12 mm Hg in five. In the responder, PCG was 16 mm Hg. Antrectomy was performed in four non-responders; surgery was uneventful, and they did not rebleed after surgery, but two died 11 and 30 days postoperatively from multiorgan failure. In one patient, TIPS did not control GAVE related bleeding despite a notable decrease in PCG. This patient underwent liver transplantation 14 months after TIPS; two months after transplantation, bleeding had stopped and the endoscopic appearance of the antrum had normalised. Results suggest that GAVE is not directly related to portal hypertension, but is influenced by the presence of liver dysfunction. Antrectomy is a therapeutic option when chronic bleeding becomes a significant problem but carries a risk of postoperative mortality.
    Gut 06/1999; 44(5):739-42. · 13.32 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Few studies have explored risk factors predicting hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in blood donors; their results are contradictory. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between HCV infection and various risk factors in Canadian volunteer blood donors. Four transfusion centers were involved in this case-control study. A total of 267 confirmed anti-HCV-positive blood donors were interviewed along with 1068 seronegative blood donors matched for sex, age, donation site, and date. Information was collected using a structured telephone interview. The main outcome measures were odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for various risk factors from univariate and multivariate analyses using conditional logistic regression. By univariate analysis, 23 variables were associated with anti-HCV positivity. In the final multivariate analysis, only 5 factors remained independently predictive of HCV infection: previous intravenous drug use (OR, 127.5; 95% CI, 26.0-625.0), having lived in a prison or juvenile detention center (56.1; 11.4-275.7), previous blood transfusion (10.5; 4.7-23.2), sexual contact with an intravenous drug user (6.9; 3.1-15.2), and tattooing (5.7; 2.5-13). Most blood donors acquire infection by percutaneous exposure to contaminated blood. A role for sexual transmission is suggested by this study.
    Gastroenterology 05/1999; 116(4):893-9. · 13.93 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prognostic value of clinical measures of the severity of disease in cirrhotic patients who were candidates for liver transplantation at our institution. The records of the 132 cirrhotic patients who were candidates for a first transplantation between January 1, 1987, and December 31, 1994, were reviewed. One hundred nine patients (82.6%) received grafts, and 23 (17.4%) died while on the waiting list. The variables examined included level of medical urgency at the time of enlistment, date of transplantation, serum creatinine level, variables that constitute the Child-Pugh score and Shaw's risk score (serum bilirubin and albumin, prothrombin time, ascites, encephalopathy, nutritional status, age, and operative blood loss), and 6-month survival status after transplantation. The proportion of patients who died awaiting a graft increased as a function of the Child-Pugh score at enlistment (score 5-6, 0%, n = 6; score 7-9, 7%, n = 54; score 10-11, 18%, n = 33; score 12-15, 33%, n = 39; P = .01). Six-month survival rates after transplantation were similar irrespective of the Child-Pugh score or Shaw's risk score. Stepwise multiple logistic regression models identified the degree of ascites, serum bilirubin, and operative blood loss as significant variables for the prediction of overall mortality 6 months posttransplantation (model chi 2 = 12.8; P = .025; r = 0.32), but the model explained only 10% of the outcomes observed. We concluded that the Child-Pugh score is a valid prognostic index for survival up to the time of transplantation for cirrhotic patients on the waiting list; however, clinical measures of the severity of cirrhosis are poor predictors of 6-month survival after transplantation.
    Liver transplantation and surgery: official publication of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and the International Liver Transplantation Society 10/1997; 3(5):532-7.
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Virological response to treatment of chronic hepatitis B is defined as the loss of serum hepatitis B virus DNA (HBV DNA) and hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg). The quantitative measurement of HBV DNA is useful for monitoring and predicting the response to therapy with interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha). In this study, we evaluated whether quantitative measurement of serum HBeAg and IgM antibody to hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAb) could also be used in this manner. Using a microparticle-capture enzyme immunoassay (IMx), a standard curve of fluorescence rate vs HBeAg concentration was constructed to provide quantitative results. The IgM HBcAb index was also measured using a microparticle enzyme immunoassay and serum HBV DNA was measured by a solution hybridization assay. We studied 48 patients who were initially positive for HBeAg and HBV DNA and who were treated with IFN-alpha2b. Their sera were serially evaluated for HBeAg concentration, and results were compared with HBV DNA levels. In the 14 patients who responded to IFN, similar disappearance curves were observed with good intraindividual correlation between the levels of the two markers. In the 34 non-responders, HBeAg levels decreased during treatment but never became negative; HBV DNA levels also decreased during treatment and became transiently undetectable in six patients, falsely suggesting treatment success. The IgM HBcAb index paralleled changes in alanine aminotransferase (ALT) concentration and did not provide additional information. Multiple logistic regression indicated that baseline ALT and HBeAg concentrations were independent predictors of the response to treatment and the addition of neither HBV DNA nor IgM HBcAb improved the model. We conclude that quantitative measurement of HBeAg provides information similar to that of HBV DNA in monitoring and predicting the response to treatment; this technique could be readily adaptable to clinical laboratories.
    Journal of Viral Hepatitis 08/1997; 4(4):265-72. · 3.31 Impact Factor
  • L Spahr, B Willems, A Dumont
    Gastroentérologie Clinique et Biologique 02/1997; 21(11):893-4. · 1.14 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus genotypes were determined for 358 viremic individuals in Montreal, Canada, by restriction endonuclease analysis of PCR products and phylogenetic analysis of core gene sequences. Types 1, 2, and 3 occurred in 62.8, 14.2, and 13.7%, respectively; types 4 and 5 were found in 3.9 and 4.5%, respectively; and genotypes 6a and 7c and a novel genotype each occurred in 0.3%. Types 4, 6, and 7 and the novel genotype were mostly from persons who had immigrated to Canada.
    Journal of Clinical Microbiology 12/1996; 34(11):2815-8. · 4.23 Impact Factor
  • Journal of Hepatology 03/1996; 24(2):246-8. · 10.40 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The biological and clinicopathological features of hepatitis C virus infections of type 1 and type 2 have been well documented. However, little is known about the nature of HCV type 5 infections, which have been found to occur in South Africa but rarely elsewhere. We investigated the HCV genotypes in 125 viremic blood donors and 125 viremic patients by restriction endonuclease analysis of amplified 5' non-coding region sequences. Donors and patients infected with type 5 were further studied. Serum HCV RNA levels were assessed by a differential-size PCR-aided transcript titration assay. HCV type 5 infections were identified in seven (5.6%) of the blood donors and in five (4.0%) of the patients. Sera from these 12 persons reacted with the core and NS3 antigens in both RIBA-2 and RIBA-3 tests. Six (50%) and 10 (83%) sera reacted with the NS4 antigens in RIBA-2 and RIBA-3 tests, respectively. HCV type 5 was found to replicate to high titers that ranged from 10(6.0) to 10(8.0) molecules/ml. Transfusion was the most frequently observed risk factor (5 of 12) and persons infected with type 5 were generally older than those infected with other types (< 40 years vs. > or = 40 years, p = 0.01). Cirrhosis was found in two of six (33%) donors and three of four (75%) patients. The duration of infection appeared to be an important determinant for the presence of cirrhosis. In this small group of Canadians infected with HCV type 5, a high proportion developed severe liver disease.
    Journal of Hepatology 01/1996; 24(1):109-13. · 10.40 Impact Factor
  • Canada communicable disease report = Relevé des maladies transmissibles au Canada 08/1995; 21(14):129-32.
  • Journal of Hepatology 08/1994; 21(1):137. · 10.40 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Prospective studies from the Far East and Alaska have shown an increased mortality from cirrhosis and/or hepatocellular carcinoma in asymptomatic hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers. The magnitude of this risk in apparently healthy North American carriers remains undefined. The outcomes of 317 asymptomatic hepatitis B surface antigen-positive carriers from the Montreal area were examined after 16 years of follow-up. A majority of carriers were of French Canadian origin, were positive for antibody to hepatitis B e antigen, and had normal serum transaminase levels; institutionalization in orphanages as infants or children was the most important epidemiological risk factor, suggesting horizontal transmission of HBV during childhood. At follow-up, mean age was 46 +/- 8 years; 3 carriers had died of HBV-related cirrhosis, 1 of alcoholic cirrhosis, and 9 of causes unrelated to liver disease. No carrier died of hepatocellular carcinoma; had the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma been similar to that reported from the Far East and Alaska, 17 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma-related deaths would have been expected. During follow-up, the annual negativation rate for hepatitis B surface antigen was 0.7%. In asymptomatic HBV carriers from Montreal, a majority are "healthy" carriers and remain asymptomatic after 16 years of follow-up and the risk of death from HBV-related cirrhosis and/or hepatocellular carcinoma is low.
    Gastroenterology 05/1994; 106(4):1000-5. · 13.93 Impact Factor
  • D Murphy, B Willems, G Delage
    The Journal of Infectious Diseases 03/1994; 169(2):473-5. · 5.78 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The 5' noncoding region (NCR) of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome displays multiple distinct sequence patterns. The classification of at least three of these patterns into génotypes I, II, and III is corroborated by sequences in other régions of the genome. We initially sequenced the 5 ' NCR of 10 isolates of patients residing in Quebec. These 10 isolates displayed 5' NCR sequence patterns typical of genotypes I, II, and III. Based on the 5' NCR sequences of these 10 isolates and of previously published isolates, we identified restriction endonuclease digestion profiles both specific and distinct to genotypes I, II, and III. We sequenced the 5' NCR of 4 isolates with cleavage profiles distinct from that of genotypes I, II, and III. These 4 isolates displayed additional sequence patterns likely to correspond to those of other HCV genotypes. Of the 14 isolates sequenced, three had a single nucleotide insertion and one had a single nucleotide deletion. The most distantly related genomes were those between genotypes II and III displaying 90% nucleotide identity. This confirms the existence of multiple HCV genotypes in Quebec, Canada.
    International Symposium on Viral Hepatitis and Liver Disease, Tokyo, Japan; 05/1993