As the life expectancy of patients with HIV infection increases, greater attention will need to be focused on concurrent illnesses, such as viral hepatitis, that may increase mid- to long-range morbidity and mortality. The incidence of viral hepatitis is increased in patients with HIV disease, reflecting the epidemiologic risks that these two conditions share. Coinfection with HIV seems to adversely affect the natural history of hepatitis C but may actually reduce the hepatic damage associated with hepatitis B. Immunosuppression due to HIV does not seem to significantly affect hepatitis A, E, or G. Clinicians have been reluctant to treat viral hepatitis in the HIV-infected population, but this therapeutic nihilism is unwarranted. Most studies have concluded that the treatment of hepatitis C in HIV-infected patients results in an initial efficacy and a long-term response similar to those seen in the HIV-seronegative population. Although the efficacy of interferon is reduced against hepatitis B, some nucleoside analogues are effective.
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