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Exposure to hepatitis C has no effect on antiretroviral treatment outcomes in HIV patients

A study of HIV-infected patients in Baltimore, Maryland, revealed that individuals seropositive for hepatitis C had similar clinical outcome measures when treated with antiretroviral drug regimens compared to seronegative patients. These findings will be presented at a July 6 press conference at the XIV International AIDS Conference being held in Barcelona, Spain, July 7-12, 2002.

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine followed almost 2,000 HIV-infected patients, nearly half of whom had exposure to hepatitis C, for at least two years. They observed that exposure to hepatitis C did not increase risk of death, accelerate progression to AIDS, or affect immune reconstitution following exposure to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

A notable difference between patients with both HIV infection and hepatitis C seropositivity and those with HIV infection alone was that the hepatitis C-seropositive patients were less likely to have been prescribed antiretroviral therapy. It was in this group that relatively high incidences of AIDS and death were observed. No differences were seen in survival rates or decline in CD4 cell count between the hepatitis C-seropositive patients who received antiretroviral therapy and HIV-infected patients who received antiretroviral therapy.

Dr. Glen R. Hanson, NIDA Acting Director, says, "In the United States and Europe, it is estimated that one-in-three of HIV-infected persons are also infected with hepatitis C and many of them are injection drug users. Research needs to continue to determine best approaches to treating those who are coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C."

Dr. Mark S. Sulkowski, head of the Hopkins team that conducted the study, explains that physicians may be less likely to prescribe aggressive antiretroviral therapy to hepatitis C-and HIV coinfected patients because these individuals are thought to be more likely to develop liver complications from antiretr
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Contact: Blair Gately
bgately@nida.nih.gov
301-443-6245
NIH/National Institute on Drug Abuse
6-Jul-2002


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