, Volume 45, Issue 10, pp 1949-1952

Serum Alanine Aminotransferase Levels in Relation to Hepatitis B and C Virus Infections Among Drug Abusers in an Area Hyperendemic for Hepatitis B

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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are the major agents responsible for hepatitis in Taiwan. The purpose of this study was to assess the serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity in relation to HBV and HCV infection among drug abusers. This survey included 769 male drug abusers aged 14–59 years, from the Kaohsiung Narcotic Abstention Institute and Kaohsiung Prision. The prevalence of HBsAg seropositivity was 21.5%, and anti-HCV seropositivity was 27.2%, respectively. Drug abusers with HBsAg or anti-HCV had higher serum AST and ALT levels than those without HBsAg and anti-HCV. The prevalence of raised ALT and AST (≥45 IU/liter) in the HCV-positive group was more significant than in the negative group, while that of the HBsAg-positive group did not reach statistical significance. Among the HCV-positive group, ALT levels are more closely associated with HCV infection than AST levels. Our results indicated that HCV infection plays an important role in the etiology of raised ALT activity among drug abusers, while HBV infection plays a minor role. ALT screening still remains a simple and valuable method in the early recognition of HCV infection.