Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found in a new study that patients who were co-infected with HIV and hepatitis-C had an 80% higher rate of decompensated cirrhosis than patients infected with only hepatitis-C. Even among patients with HIV/hepatitis-C who received antiretroviral therapy (ART) to treat HIV, the rate for serious liver disease was 60% higher than those with only hepatitis-C. The study has appeared in the March 18th issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Hepatitis-C virus infects in the liver and causes liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer. The virus can spread through contact with infected blood. It is reported that more Americans die from hepatitis-C related diseases each year than from those of HIV. Co-infection with HIV/hepatitis-C occurs in 20-30% of patients with HIV.
The us of ART might slow hepatitis-C associated liver fibrosis, however, the efficacy was not demonstrated in the study and remained unknown.
“Our results suggest that serious consideration should be given to initiating hepatitis C treatment in patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C—particularly among those with advanced liver fibrosis or cirrhosis—in order to try to reduce the risk of serious, potentially life-threatening liver complications,” said the study’s lead author, Vincent Lo Re III, MD, MSCE, assistant professor of Medicine and Epidemiology in the division of Infectious Diseases and department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Penn, and an investigator in the Penn Center for AIDS Research. “By taking action sooner, we may be able to reduce the risk of advanced liver disease in co-infected patients.”
In the study, researchers analyzed electronic medical record data of 4,280 patients who were infected with both HIV and chronic hepatitis C virus and receiving ART, and the data of 6,079 patients who were with hepatitis-C alone and receiving care between 1997 and 2010 to obtain the results.