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Am J Gastroenterol. 2006 Aug;101(8):1804-10. Epub 2006 Jun 16.

Hepatitis C infection is associated with depressive symptoms in HIV-infected adults with alcohol problems.

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Division of General Medicine and Primary Care and Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.



Depression is common in persons with HIV infection and with alcohol problems, and it has important prognostic implications. Neurocognitive dysfunction has been reported with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We hypothesized that HCV infection is associated with more depressive symptoms in HIV-infected persons with a history of alcohol problems.


We performed a cross-sectional analysis of baseline data from a prospective cohort study of 391 HIV-infected subjects with a history of alcohol problems, of whom 59% were HCV antibody (Ab) positive and 49% were HCV RNA-positive. We assessed depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression [CES-D]) and past month alcohol consumption. In the primary analysis, we evaluated whether there were more depressive symptoms in HCV Ab-positive and RNA-positive subjects in unadjusted analyses and adjusting for alcohol consumption, gender, age, race, CD4 count, homelessness, drug dependence, and medical comorbidity.


Mean CES-D scores were higher in subjects who were HCV Ab-positive compared with those who were HCV Ab-negative (24.3 vs 19.0; p < 0.001). In adjusted analyses, the difference in CES-D scores between HCV Ab-positive and Ab-negative subjects persisted (24.0 vs 19.0; p < 0.001). Unadjusted mean CES-D scores were also significantly higher in HCV RNA-positive subjects compared with those who were RNA-negative, and the difference remained significant (24.6 vs 19.3; p < 0.001) in adjusted analyses.


HCV/HIV coinfected persons with a history of alcohol problems have more depressive symptoms than those without HCV, and this association is unexplained by a variety of population characteristics. These data suggest that HCV may have a direct effect on neuropsychiatric function.

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