Impact of early-untreated HIV infection on chronic hepatitis C in intravenous drug users: a case–control study

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ObjectiveThe impact of early-untreated HIV infection on chronic hepatitis C was determined in a case–control study, aimed at limiting factors associated with the progression of immunodeficiency.MethodsHIV-infected patients attending for a medical examination during 1995–1996 were systematically screened for: previous intravenous drug use without other HIV or Hepatitis C virus (HCV) risk factor, CD4 cell count > 200/μl, no AIDS, no antiretroviral treatment, positive anti-HCV antibody, negative hepatitis B surface antigen, abnormal aminotransferase activity. Thirty-eight consecutive eligible HIV-infected patients (cases) were included. Thirty-eight HCV-infected patients without HIV infection whose unique risk factor was intravenous drug use (controls) were paired to cases according to age, sex, and duration of HCV infection.ResultsCases and controls had similar ages, sex ratios, duration of HCV infection, and alcohol intake. They were infected predominantly by genotypes 1 and 3. Viraemia was higher in cases than in controls. METAVIR histological scores of activity and fibrosis in cases versus controls were 2.2 ± 0.8 versus 1.6 ± 0.7 (P = 0.0008) and 1.8 ± 1 versus 1.5 ± 0.8 (P = 0.06), respectively. The percentage of cirrhosis was higher in cases, without reaching statistical difference. The progression rate of fibrosis was higher in cases. Age at contamination and METAVIR activity score were significantly associated with the progression of fibrosis in cases.ConclusionEarly-untreated HIV infection is associated with higher HCV viraemia and more severe liver injury in intravenous drug users with chronic hepatitis C.

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