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Alcohol and HCV...an unanswered question.

Here is a curveball, along with an article regarding the highprevalance of HCV in alcoholics.  See link below.


This is an issue that I have discussed with several HCV doctors, with no clear answer to my questions.  The article, as well as several others I have reviewed lately, indicates the abnormally high number of heavy drinkers, alcoholics, etc. that are HCV positive.  Often this is within populations with no known risk factors, and no past IVDU history.  My big question, which I have wondered about for years, is WHY does this seem to be the case.  Why would heavy alcohol users seem prone to developing HCV???  Unless, of course, they are all lying, and happen to also have risk factors which they now deny.  I think there is much more to this mystery, which still baffles the medical community.

Along with my concerns about persistent HCV after SVR, is another concern which many of you have responded to in the past when I have posed this issue.  Could there be HCV transmission in the general population, on a much larger scale than suspected, that is not in the bloodstream or liver.  In effect, a 'latent' tissue, or glandular infection which remains latent or suppressed, until a major stimulus causes it to 'explode' into the bloodstream.  This theory would help explain the great numbers of HCV cases worldwide that have no known risk factors.
Could there be a somewhat 'dormant' viral infection in a large portion of our population, within organs like salivary system, sexual organs , membranes, CNS, etc.??? (cont. below)
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Avatar universal
This would mean that an immune suppression event, major illness, or extended alcohol abuse might cause the 'latent' controlled tissue HCV infection to overwhelm the immune system, and allow it to be expressed in the bloodstream and liver.  This might fit the pattern of many HCV positive people, who discover that they have the disease, but have no clear risk factor in the past, other than maybe a period of extreme alcohol abuse.  It would also explain why alcohol is a major problem to those with ongoing HCV in the blood as well.  It continues to 'explode' production of HCV, and to overwhelm immune defenses, so that fibrosis, and cirrhosis, and eventually HCC develop.

This is the only logical answer that I can come up with if the alcoholics studied truly do not have a higher frequency of risk factors than the HCV-negative alcoholic control population.

Any thoughts on this issue????  

Avatar universal
"In effect, a 'latent' tissue, or glandular infection which remains latent or suppressed, until a major stimulus causes it to 'explode' into the bloodstream. This theory would help explain the great numbers of HCV cases worldwide that have no known risk factors."

Personally I think the reason so many hep c cases have "no known risk factors" is because many infected from IV drug use -- still the leading cause here -- aren't honest with their treatment doctors. The second reason is I think is that sexual transmission (or intra-familial transmission) may be underestimated. Sex and drugs, drugs and sex, two topics people tend to keep private. No, have no studies on this, just an opinion.

Oh, and just to be clear, I'm not talking about anybody here, so please do not respond personally :) I know there are other less conventional modes of transmission as well. However, DD, with respect, I don't think your "exploding" viral into the bloodstream is one of them.

-- Jim
Avatar universal
I have long believed that we all harbor pathological viruses that are "latent" and waiting to multiply upon presentation of a trigger.  Like HCV triggered by alcohol abuse.....
Hope I am very mistaken.
Avatar universal
Tend to agree with Jim here.  I think the percent of those that are honest about how they have contacted HCV is very small. I just can't subscribe to the osmosis method of HCV transmission. Perhaps like Jim said there is more sexual transmission than originally thought, but I am not even sure of that.  I still think the blood to blood contact is how we all got it. Sorry, DD.

Avatar universal

When i was younger and tougher i did a lot of construction work, and my fair share of ironwork. If you didn't leave the job site at the end of the day with some good size cuts and nicks on your hands and arms then you must not of worked very hard. And you know that maucho image that men have, you didn't stop working over a boo boo you just grabed a rag wiped the blood off, tossed it aside and kept working. I often wonder now how many people that used that same rag that i tossed got infected from my blood. There are so many ways for blood to blood infections that we don't even think about at the time. But i don't think that explodings viral in the bloodstream is one of them. But thats only my thoughts.

Avatar universal
Not sure that thier is a cooralation between high drinking and non-blood contact.  The highest population of Hep C infected are ex or current drug users.  I have heard this number is as high as 70 to 80 perect of those infected. It is possible that they are also heavy drinkers.  I have never met a drinker who did not have another risk factor related to blood who is infected with hep C.  I think it is clear that the highest risk factor for getting Hep C is via blood contact.   What you do see is a coralation between heavy drinkers and advanced hep c ( approx 20 percent).  This is the same percentage of people who will get advance Hep C.
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