Reaching an undetectable hepatitis C viral load is linked to diminished chances of liver disease and liver-related death, MedPage Today reports. Researchers published their findings of a large observational cohort study in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and also presented them at the 64th Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) in Washington, DC.

Out of 360,857 people with hep C in the Veterans Affairs HCV clinical registry, which includes electronic medical records information spanning back to 1999, investigators drew a sample of 28,769 who had a detectable viral load and a recorded genotype upon entry into the system. They found that 24.3 percent of the sample received treatment and 16.4 percent of those people achieved a fully suppressed viral load, for a total of 4 percent among the entire sample.

An analysis found that viral suppression lowered the risk of death by 45 percent and reduced by 27 percent the risk of anything under the umbrella of newly diagnosed cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the most common form of liver cancer) and hospitalization because of liver-related causes.

Compared to people with genotype 1, those with genotype 3 of the virus were at an 11 percent raised risk for the composite of liver disease or liver-related hospitalization and at a 17 percent elevated risk of death. Having genotype 2 lowered risks of the composite of liver-related clinical problems by 23 percent and the risk of death by 20 percent when compared with having genotype 1.

To read the MedPage Today story, click here.

To read the study, click here.