Supervisors: Professor Sharon Hutchinson, Professor David Goldberg, Dr Carol Emslie
Year commenced PhD study: 2014 (Full Time) PhD
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is recognised as a global public health problem, with worldwide over 170 million people chronically infected and 350,000 people estimated to die from the consequences of liver disease each year (WHO, 2014). Accelerated progression of HCV-related liver disease is known to be associated with a number of risk factors such as sex, age, coinfection with other blood-borne viruses (e.g. HIV) and alcohol consumption (Freeman et al, 2003; Hutchinson et al, 2005). Although alcohol and HCV are the predominants for chronic liver disease in the Western world, the joint effect of these two factors on liver disease has not been extensively studied (Singal & Anand, 2007). While both these factors have a similar liver disease progression sequence, their coexistence has been subject to research with a number of studies suggesting a synergistic effect while others fail to capture a significant interaction (Mueller et al., 2009). The difference in findings may reflect the complex relationship between alcohol consumption, HCV and the progression of liver disease, and particularly the difficulty in accurately measuring alcohol intake. Previous studies have also been limited by the use of predominantly small sample sizes (Ostapowicz et al, 1998). Through the analysis of existing and development of new HCV surveillance/surveys, this doctoral study will investigate the extent of alcohol use among the HCV infected population in Scotland and its influence on the progression, management and treatment of this disease. This research will help guide the development of HCV treatment and care services, and inform national/international policy on the management of HCV infection.