Occult hepatitis B infection and its possible impact on chronic hepatitis C virus infection
As a well-recognized clinical phenomenon, persistent detectable viral genome in liver or sera in the absence of other serological markers for active hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication is called occult HBV infection. The main mechanism through which occult infection occurs is not completely understood and several possible explanations, such as integration into human genome and maintenance in peripheral mononuclear cells, exist. Occult HBV infection has been reported in different populations, especially among patients with Hepatitis C (HCV) related liver disease. The probable impact of occult HBV in patients with chronic HCV infection has been previously investigated and the evidence suggests a possible correlation with lower response to anti-viral treatment, higher grades of liver histological changes, and also developing hepatocellular carcinoma. However, in the absence of conclusive results, further studies should be conducted to absolutely assess the impact of occult HBV contamination on the HCV related liver disease.