The use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has extended the healthy lifespan of patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); deaths among people with AIDS declined for the first time in 1996, after the institution of this therapeutic approach. As the life expectancy of HIV-infected patients increases, greater attention will need to be focused on the recognition and management of potentially severe concurrent illnesses that may increase their mid- to long-range morbidity and mortality. The incidence of infection by hepatitis C virus (HCV) is increased among patients with HIV disease, reflecting shared epidemiological risks. HCV not only may have an impact on the health status of HIV-infected patients but also may decrease their quality of life and increase their health care costs. Although clinicians have been reluctant to treat viral hepatitis C in the HIV-infected population, this therapeutic nihilism is unwarranted. The majority of studies have concluded that treatment of hepatitis C in HIV-infected patients results in an initial efficacy and long-term response similar to those in the HIV-seronegative population. Furthermore, treatment of HCV infection in HCV/HIV-coinfected patients may improve tolerance for antiretroviral medications. Physicians caring for patients with HIV infection require up-to-date information to make rational decisions regarding HCV coinfection to ensure that morbidity and mortality are minimized and that quality of life and medical care costs are optimized.
Journal Article. 6312 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology
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