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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2001 Nov-Dec;33(5):367-74.

Hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus coinfections.

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Division of Gastroenterology, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio 44109, USA.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has become a major contributor to morbidity and mortality in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It is estimated that 30% to 50% of patients with HIV are coinfected with HCV. Advances in antiretroviral therapy and improved life expectancy of HIV patients have resulted in an emergence of HCV-induced liver disease as a leading cause of significant morbidity and death in this population. Clinically, hepatitis C is a more severe disease in HIV-infected individuals, characterized by rapid progression toward end-stage liver disease. Highly active antiretroviral therapy is the mainstay of current acquired immunodeficiency syndrome management. One of the limiting side effects of combination therapy for HIV is hepatotoxicity, which is more common and often more serious in patients with underlying liver disease. Management of coinfected patients has no strict guidelines, but it is generally accepted that HIV infection needs to be treated before HCV. Hepatitis C in coinfected individuals is probably best treated using combination therapy (interferon alpha and ribavirin). It appears that combination therapy can safely be administered to this population and that previous concerns about ribavirin/zidovudine antagonism are unsubstantiated in clinical practice. Although initial results using only interferon alpha showed poor results in HIV coinfected patients, combination therapy seems to be as effective as in the general population. All HIV-HCV coinfected patients should be vaccinated against hepatitis B and hepatitis A; vaccines are safe and effective.

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