I came across a study* that was a shocker. In 1994, 30 UK patients with primary immune deficiencies received a batch of HCV-contaminated human immunoglobulin (that had been screened) and became infected with acute hepatitis.
Of these 30, four developed end-stage liver failure within 18 months (see discussion). One patient died before transplantation; one died after, one lived and one died of other causes. Most of the other patients had better outcomes with IFN treatment and/or in clearing the virus. Study conclusion:
“HCV can cause rapid severe liver disease in hypogammagloulinaemic patients.”
A small percentage of fortunate people with non-compromised immune systems clear the HCV infections; for others, decades pass before any symptoms and subsequent testing reveal the chronic infection and the various stages of liver damage. According to an article by Kenneth E. Sherman, MD: Advanced Liver Disease: What Every Hepatitis C Virus Treater Should Know, disease progression is not linear; and it moves faster for those who have infections like HIV or have a history of excessive alcohol consumption.
There is no question that HIV/AIDS research benefits research in other infectious diseases but the allocation of public research funds for HCV is pitiful in comparison to HIV funding.
NIH categorical research monies for HCV versus HIV/AIDS
2011 FY actual funded research 114 million for HCV (2-pages of projects).
The information technologists who design and maintain the NIH website, Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT), have done a good job making information accessible with good finding tools.
Besides greater funding for hepatitis research, the government should promote routine HCV testing for all adults. Putting information about HCV under the AIDS umbrella will reach a limited demographic; it’s not nearly broad enough to reach everyone.