Background. Hepatitis occurs frequently in patients with end-stage renal disease. In 1997, 0.7% of patients receiving a renal transplant were positive for hepatitis C antibodies. Concern has been raised as to whether these patients are at an increased mortality risk after renal transplantation compared with patients who are hepatitis C antibody negative. To help answer this question, we analyzed data from the United States Renal Data System from October of 1988 through June of 1998. Methods. Primary study endpoints were patient death and death censored graft loss. Secondary study endpoints included cardiovascular, infectious, malignant, and infection-related death. Kaplan-Meier survival estimates as well as Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate the impact of hepatitis C antibody status on the study endpoints. Results. A total of 73,707 patients were analyzed. Patient survival by Kaplan-Meier analysis was higher in hepatitis C-positive patients, whereas death censored graft survival trended lower in the very long term. By the Cox model, hepatitis C-positive adjusted patient survival is slightly superior to that of hepatitis C-negative patients. Conclusions. Renal transplant recipients who are hepatitis C antibody positive do not have an increased risk of death after transplantation compared with hepatitis C-negative recipients. The current policy of transplanting hepatitis C-positive patients without active liver disease seems to incur no excess mortality risk.
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