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Hepatitis and HIV CoinfectionHepatitis and HIV Coinfection
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Mar 7, 2002

My boyfriend was diagnosed with chronic hep c in 1991. At that time he gave up all use of alcohol. He had interferon treatment twice and a biopsy that revealed the beginning of cirrosis. He has been told that besides the existence of the virus in his blood and a slightly enlarged liver, that he has no signs of a person with a chronic liver disease. After five years of no alcohol, he started using alcohol again. He has been using again for the last five years approximately once every 6 months. What kind of damage is he doing? He has convinced himself that "once in a while is O.K." since he is healthy and showing no bad signs. He is 40 yrs. old and will be starting the "peg" treatment shortly.

Response from Dr. Fried

We usually recommend avoiding all alcohol intake for patients with hepatitis C. If someone has one or two drinks every 6 months, it is unlikely that this will cause significant damage by itself. HOWEVER, the exact amount of alcohol that will cause increased liver damage in the setting of hepatitis C is unknown and remains under investigation. I always tell my patients that the safest thing is to avoid alcohol.

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