Influence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection on the natural course of chronic parenterally acquired Hepatitis C

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Abstract

The aim of the present study was to investigate the possible role of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the natural course of chronic hepatitis C. Seventy-six adult patients with chronic parenterally acquired hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection examined from 1989 to 1993 were enrolled; of these 32 (42.1 %) were HIV positive and 44 (57.9 %) were HIV negative. Serum HCV RNA quantitation was carried out by polymerase chain reaction in a well-characterized group (n=20; 11 HIV positive and 9 HIV negative). Distribution of histological findings in liver biopsies from both HIV-infected and noninfected patients was similar. However, within 15 years after initial HCV infection, 8 of 32 (25 %) HIV-positive patients developed cirrhosis, in comparison with only 2 of 31 (6.5 %) patients in the HIV-negative group (p<0.05); similar incidences of cirrhosis were found in both patient groups within 5 and 10 years after HCV infection. Most of the HIV-negative cirrhotic patients (9 of 11) developed cirrhosis in a time interval longer than 15 years. Finally, HCV load was almost ten times higher (1 10-fold dilution) in the HIV-positive group, but this difference did not reach statistical significance in this small study population. These results suggest that HIV infection can alter the natural course of chronic parenterally acquired hepatitis C, causing an unusually rapid progression to cirrhosis.