Does hepatitis C virus co-infection accelerate clinical and immunological evolution of HIV-infected patients?

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Objective:To study the influence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infection on clinical and immunological evolution of HIV-infected patients.Design:A longitudinal study of HIV-infected individuals with or without HCV infection, identified at the Infectious Diseases Department of Dijon University Hospital and enrolled in a historical cohort, was performed.Methods:One hundred and nineteen HIV-infected people co-infected with HCV and 119 matched individuals infected with HIV alone were included in the cohort (median participation time 3 years; range, 2 months to 11.5 years). Clinical progression was defined as one or more of the following: a 30% decrease in the Karnofsky index; a 20% loss of body weight; an AIDS-defining illness (for non-AIDS patients); death (except by accident, suicide or overdose). Immunological progression was defined as a 50% decrease in the initial CD4 T-cell count (for patients with an initial count > 100 × 106 cells/l). Effects of HCV co-infection were evaluated using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and significance was tested using univariate (log-rank and Peto's tests) and multivariate methods (Cox's model).Results:In univariate analysis, immunological progression was not statistically different between the HCV-positive group and the HCV-negative group, whereas clinical progression was significantly faster in HCV-positive patients (P < 0.005, log–rank test). In a multivariate Cox model, clinical progression remained significantly associated with infection by HCV [hazard ratio (HR), 1.64; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.06–2.55; P < 0.05]. Stratified multivariable analysis retained HCV as a significant prognostic factor of clinical progression (HR, 10.9; 95% CI, 1.09–109.3; P < 0.05) and immunological progression (HR, 2.31; 95% CI, 1.16–4.62; P < 0.02) for patients with an initial CD4 count above 600 × 106 cells/l.Conclusions:Clinical progression is more rapid in HIV–HCV co-infected patients than in HIV-seropositive patients are not infected by HCV. The prognostic value of HCV infection for both clinical and immunological progression is significant at early stages of HIV infection. These findings may argue for active management of hepatitis C infection in co-infected individuals, especially for asymptomatic patients whose CD4 count is above 600 × 106 cells/l, to predict and prevent accelerated progression of HCV and HIV diseases.

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