Predictors of hepatitis C virus RNA levels in a prospective cohort study of drug users

Dawn A. Fishbein, Yungtai Lo, Dale Netski, David L. Thomas, Robert S. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


High levels of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA are associated with a poor response to treatment of chronic hepatitis C, and a substantial reduction in HCV RNA levels predicts a favorable treatment response. We prospectively studied time-dependent and time-independent predictors of HCV RNA levels in 264 drug users with chronic HCV infection. Interviews on medical history and high-risk behaviors, phlebotomy for HIV viral load, serum HCV RNA levels as measured by the COBAS Amplicor HCV Monitor (Roche Diagnostics, Branchburg, NJ), and a lymphocyte subset assay were performed. Factors associated with HCV RNA levels over time were analyzed using a linear mixed model. Nearly 70% of the participants were men, two thirds were Hispanic, and the mean age was 46 years. HCV RNA levels increased over time. Older age (P < 0.001), HIV seropositivity (P = 0.03), and HCV nongenotype 1 (P = 0.05) were predictors of higher HCV RNA levels on multivariate analysis. Among 142 HIV-seropositive participants, a detectable HIV-1 viral load (P < 0.001) and recent alcohol use (P = 0.02) were predictors of higher HCV RNA levels. The predictors of higher HCV RNA levels found in this longitudinal study are consistent with those of prior cross-sectional studies. Further studies are warranted to determine if treatment of alcohol use affects HCV RNA levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)471-476
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Drug users
  • HIV-hepatitic C virus coinfection
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hepatitis C RNA
  • Hepatitis C virus RNA levels

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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