The life expectancy of HIV-positive individuals has been prolonged in recent years, as a consequence of the wide use of antiretroviral drugs and primary prophylaxis for the most common opportunistic infections. In HIV-positive persons infected parenterally, chronic viral liver disease (CVLD), mainly that caused by hepatitis C virus (HCV), is frequently seen. Moreover, chronic hepatitis C seems to present a more accelerated course in HIV-infected patients, leading to cirrhosis and liver failure in a shorter period of time. The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of CVLD on the morbidity and mortality of HIV-positive patients. A retrospective analysis of the causes of hospital admission during a 4.5-year period in a reference centre for AIDS situated in Madrid was performed. Decompensated liver disease (encephalopathy, ascites, jaundice), or complications directly related to it (gastrointestinal bleeding, hepatorenal syndrome, peritonitis) were diagnosed in 143 (8.6%) of 1670 hospital admissions. These episodes of CVLD corresponded to 105 different individuals, a quarter of whom had two or more re- admissions. HCV alone or in combination with other hepatotropic viruses was involved in 93 (88.6%) patients admitted for CVLD. Death directly associated with CVLD occurred in 15 individuals, which represented 4.8% of the total causes of inhospital mortality during the study period, and represented the fifth cause of death in hospital for HIV-infected patients. In conclusion, CVLD represents an important cause of hospital admission and death in HIV-infected drug users.
Drug users Hepatitis B Hepatitis C Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Liver Natural history Viral hepatitis