October 25, 2010
In general, treatment guidelines for HCV-HIV co-infection encourage the initiation of HCV therapy at counts well above the 200 CD4+ cell level. The reason for this is that HCV therapy can temporarily reduce CD4+ cell counts, and if these fall too low there is a risk that life-threatening infections could develop.
Researchers in Barcelona and elsewhere in Spain conducted a pilot study to evaluate the safety of HCV therapy in co-infected people with low CD4+ cell counts. Their results are surprising and may incite the initiation of larger studies to explore the issue of HCV therapy in people with low CD4+ cell counts.
Researchers recruited 11 co-infected volunteers, all who had HCV genotype 1 and who were taking anti-HIV therapy. None had hepatitis A or B or any other significant health condition. They were divided into two groups as follows:
All participants received standard treatment for HCV -- interferon and ribavirin adjusted according to body weight.
Preliminary results of 12 weeks of therapy were made available:
Since no serious AIDS-related infections occurred and significant reductions in HCV viral load were seen, at least over the short-term, the Spanish researchers say that larger and longer studies are warranted in co-infected people with low CD4+ cell counts.