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Paediatr Drugs. 2002;4(9):571-80.

Hepatitis C virus infection in children coinfected with HIV: epidemiology and management.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Florence, Florence, Italy.


Mothers with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV coinfection are the major source of HCV/HIV coinfection in infancy and childhood. There is no known intervention capable of interrupting HCV spread from mother to child, while the majority of infant HIV infections occurring in the developed world can be prevented by antiretroviral prophylaxis in the mother and child, elective caesarean section, and formula-feeding. In the era preceding treatment of HIV infection with highly active antiretroviral therapy, HCV coinfection was of little concern because the short-term survival of patients with HIV infection prevented the slowly developing consequences of chronic hepatitis C. As the life expectancy of patients with HIV infection increased with therapy, HCV has emerged as a significant pathogen. Several lines of evidence in adult patients suggest that liver disease may be more severe in patients coinfected with HIV and that progression of HIV disease may be accelerated by HCV coinfection. Whether coinfected children may share these clinical patterns remains a matter of speculation. Chronic hepatitis C in otherwise healthy children is usually a mild disease; liver damage may be sustained and fibrosis may increase over the years, suggesting slow progression of the disease. Interferon-alpha has been the only drug used in the past decade to treat hepatitis C in children and adolescents, with average response rates of 20%. Preliminary results of treatment with interferon-alpha and ribavirin suggest that the efficacy would be greater with combined therapy. These treatment protocols have not yet been applied to children coinfected with HIV, but the increasing number of long-term survivors will probably prompt further investigation in the near future. At present, treating HIV disease and monitoring HCV infection and hepatotoxicity induced by antiretroviral drugs seem to be the more reasonable approach to HCV/HIV coinfection in childhood.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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