Management of chronic Hepatitis C virus in patients with HIV
The life expectancy of HIV seropositive persons is approaching the life expectancy of those who are uninfected with HIV. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has emerged as a worldwide epidemic. Given the similar transmission route between HCV and HIV, there has been an explosion in the number of individuals infected with both viruses. Because of the successful introduction of antiretroviral therapy, patients are more susceptible to new opportunistic infections such as HCV. HCV leads to a more rapid progression to end-stage liver disease in patients with HIV, and the morbidity and mortality related to HCV in co-infected patients is on the rise. Therefore, it has become imperative to treat both HIV and HCV in co-infected patients. The primary goal of HCV therapy is permanent eradication of the virus. Secondary goals include reduction in hepatic fibrosis progression, development of decompensated cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Early studies using standard interferon-alfa for the treatment of HCV in co-infected individuals were discouraging, as poor outcomes, high discontinuation rates, and severe adverse events were observed. The current standard of care for treatment of HCV is pegylated-interferon and ribavirin. New studies have recently demonstrated a higher sustained virologic response rate and a better adverse event profile than previously reported in co-infected patients. As a result, we recommend considering all co-infected patients for HCV therapy while watching closely for unique treatment-related toxicities. The treatment of HCV in co-infected patients should be a high priority for all providers.
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