For a study, researchers sought to look at the long-term outcome of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in children who were followed at a single center. They included all children with chronic HCV infection who were followed at the Liver Unit of their hospital from January 1, 1988, to September 30, 2021. The final sample consisted of 163 children. The median age of the children when they enrolled in the study was 4 years old, and the median age at the last follow-up was 14 years old. The median duration of follow-up was 86 months. About 125 children were infected vertically, and 26 acquired their infection horizontally. About 26 of the 125 children infected with HCV (20.8%) had a spontaneous clearance of HCV RNA by the time they were 4 years old. However, all the other children remained persistently viremic. One patient was diagnosed with cirrhosis; 2 presented clinically detectable extrahepatic manifestations (chronic urticaria). About 32 children (19.6%) received antiviral therapy: 8 out of 32 (25%) were treated with pegylated-interferon alfa-2b [sustained virological response (SVR) 24 weeks after the end of treatment in 7/8]; 24 out of 32 (75%) were treated with direct-acting antivirals (SVR 12 weeks after the end of treatment in 23/24). The study describes the largest group of children with chronic HCV infection. This group of children was followed for a long time to see what would happen. Most of these kids can be cured with modern antiviral therapy. If they are treated early, it might prevent them from getting the liver disease later on.
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