California: Hepatitis C in HIVers May Cause Rapid Liver Disease -- Forum
March 30, 2009
At a recent San Francisco forum entitled "Could you survive HIV only to die from hepatitis C?" presenters talked about the growing number of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections found among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM).
The process whereby HCV destroys the liver typically takes years or decades. But Fierer said his analysis of a small but growing number of co-infected MSM in New York suggests acute HCV infection in a person already infected with HIV leads to unusually rapid liver damage. He has theorized that existing HIV infection may predispose patients to accelerated liver fibrosis if they are subsequently infected with HCV. This rapid disease progression is not common in co-infected injection drug users, who typically acquire HCV before HIV.
Fierer's findings are controversial, as UK and European researchers have not reported similar rapid disease progression. However, they have tended to use non-invasive methods, not the more accurate liver biopsies employed by Fierer's team, to evaluate liver damage.
Fierer added the good news that if HCV treatment is begun during the acute phase of infection, there is a good chance of both eliminating HCV and improving liver damage.
Bay Area Reporter (San Francisco)
03.26.2009; Liz Highleyman
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.