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What if I have BOTH Hep C and HIV?

Discussion in 'HEP C HIV' started by gk, Jan 27, 2004.

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  1. gk

    gk Guest

    Because there is limited information on people with HIV/HCV coinfection, and because disease progression is affected by many other factors, we still don’t know the percentage of coinfected people who will develop serious illness.

    But for people who are infected only with HCV, the numbers are:
    #8594; If 100 people were infected with HCV at the same time:
    * about 25 will clear the infection within 4-6 weeks;
    * the remaining 75 will have chronic Hep C:
    * 20 will never have symptoms;
    * 55 will develop symptoms, on average after 15 years:
    * between 8 and 20 will go on to develop cirrhosis of the liver (usually after more than 20 years);
    * between 2 and 5 will experience liver failure or cancer.

    For people coinfected with HIV and HCV, researchers believe that the likelihood of developing serious illness is greater, and the time before the onset of any illness is likely to be shorter. There isn’t any evidence at this stage, however, that having HCV will make your HIV infection any worse.

    Treatment

    One proven treatment, called interferon, is available to treat Hep C. It may be given alone (monotherapy) or in combination with a second drug, ribavirin (combination therapy).

    Treatment is available only to people meeting specified criteria, including significant symptoms of HCV infection and persistently elevated ALT levels.

    For people coinfected with HIV and HCV, the first priority is usually to treat the HIV infection. Around 50% of people treated with interferon monotherapy respond to treatment, but only about 25% show a lasting benefit from the treatment.

    The response rate for combination therapy is about double that for monotherapy, but combination therapy is only available to those who have relapsed after a first course of monotherapy. Interferon is given as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) usually three times a week for twelve months, but treatment will be discontinued if there is no evidence of response after three months.

    Ribavirin is taken as a capsule, twice a day over the same period. Interferon and ribavirin are expensive. As with anti-HIV therapy, there are a number of specific criteria which must be met before treatment can be prescribed. Your doctor can discuss these with you.

    The side effects of Hep C treatment can be a major issue for some people. While some people have no side effects, most people experience at least some, including tiredness, flu -like symptoms, fever, chills, headache, muscle and/or joint pain, depression, irritability, confusion and mood swings. Interferon can also trigger immune disorders, skin rashes, hair loss, thyroid dysfunction and depression. These side effects usually decrease in severity during the course of treatment, and usually disappear altogether once treatment is stopped. Life-threatening side effects are rare. Before starting treatment it is important to understand these potential side effects and to consider how they may affect your relationships, work and outlook on life.
     
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