Question

We are having a minor debate out here in San Francsico, I have read the answer in one of your postings, but dated Apr. 2000. Any change?

The Question is simple: Is HCV considered an "AIDS defining illness", an OI, or both in persons also infected with HIV?

Any information you could provide would be most helpful because it seems to be shaping up as an issue in my disability determination since I have responded quite well to HAART and there is some thought i should be able to work, though I am not sure how.

Thanks for your valuable and informative forum.

Answer

Hep C is not considered an "AIDS-defining" illness, although it can certainly cause considerable health problems all on its own. It isn't truly an "OI", but rather a co-infection with HIV. An "OI" implies that the reason you have the infection is because your immune system wasn't strong enough to protect you. Many people acquire hepatitis C even before they have HIV, so HIV-induced immune suppression isn't a causative factor in getting hep C although it may well hasten the damage done by hep C. But it is becoming enough of a clinical problem for the US Public Health Service guidelines to include hepatitis C in its most recent (1999) version of OI prevention and management.