Aim: A nationwide survey in Japan revealed that nearly one-fifth of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients are co-infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). We conducted a study to further analyze the features of liver disease in HIV–HCV co-infected patients.
Methods: We analyzed 297 patients from eight hospitals belonging to the HIV/AIDS Network of Japan.
Results: HCV genotypes 1, 2, 3, 4 and mixed genotypes were detected in 55.2, 13.7, 18.9, 0.9 and 11.3% of patients, respectively, in contrast to the fact that only genotypes 1 and 2 are detected in HCV mono-infected patients in Japan. This is compatible with the transmission of HCV through imported blood products contaminated by HCV. Sixteen of 297 HIV–HCV co-infected patients had advanced liver disease accompanied by ascites, hepatic encephalopathy or hepatocellular carcinoma. The average age of such patients was 41.1 ± 14.0 years, which was much younger than that of HCV mono-infected patients with the same complications. The progression speed of liver disease estimated from the changes in the levels of serum albumin, bilirubin, or platelet was slower in patients who achieved sustained virological response with interferon treatment than in those who did not receive it. The overall sustained virological response rate to interferon treatment was 43.3%.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that liver disease is more advanced in HIV–HCV co-infected patients than in HCV mono-infected patients, and interferon treatment may retard the progression of liver disease in such patients.