HIV-HCV co-infection facing HCV protease inhibitor licensing: implications for clinicians

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With the licensing of the first hepatitis C (HCV) protease inhibitors (PI), telaprevir (TVR) and boceprevir (BOC), cure rates for chronic HCV infection will substantially improve. Human immunodeficiency virus- chronic hepatitis C (HIV-HCV) co-infected patients are in urgent need for these new drugs, because they are facing both severe liver disease and lower response rates than HCV monoinfected patients. The currently available efficacy data are however, limited to two phase II trials. Fortunately, TVR and BOC appear to be able to improve cure rates in co-infected patients. A major challenge for clinicians will be the management of drug–drug interactions of antiretroviral drugs and new PI. As HCV PI are also metabolized by the cytochrome P450 3A4 system interactions are probable as well with non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors as with HIV PI. To our knowledge, TVR can only be safely used with one protease inhibitor, boosted atazanavir, and also with efavirenz (EFV), although this combination requires TVR dose adjustments. Boceprevir should not be combined with HIV PI and should not be combined with EFV. The approval of TVR and BOC will create new chances of cure also for HIV-HCV co-infected patients. However, the decision who to treat or not has to be taken carefully on the basis of fibrosis stage and previous treatment outcomes. In addition, HIV therapy needs to be optimized according to the available drug–drug interaction data.

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