Treatment of HCV in Patients with Renal Failure
There continues to be a high prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) on maintenance hemodialysis, despite screening of blood products and precautions to prevent the transmission of viral hepatitis within dialysis units. In addition, an increased rate of mortality from liver disease has been observed in infected patients on long-term dialysis, despite the frequent absence of biochemical dysfunction. Hepatitis C-infected renal transplant recipients have diminished patient and graft survivals compared to uninfected controls. Treatment with interferon in renal transplant candidates has resulted in sustained viral responses that have been long lasting even after subsequent renal transplant. A major concern limiting the use of interferon following renal transplant is graft dysfunction due to rejection. Ribavirin's induction of hemolytic anemia is the major reason why it is avoided in patients with CKD. Cautious use of reduced-dose ribavirin in small studies has been promising in these patients with close monitoring of hematocrit and additional measures to enhance compensatory erythropoiesis.