The influence of human immunodeficiency virus coinfection on chronic hepatitis C in injection drug users: a long-term retrospective cohort study

Hepatology. 2001 Dec;34(6):1193-9. doi: 10.1053/jhep.2001.29201.


In this study we analyzed the influence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection on the course of chronic hepatitis C through multivariate analysis including age, alcohol consumption, immune status, and hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related virologic factors. Eighty HIV-positive and 80 HIV-negative injection drug users included between 1980 and 1995 were matched according to age, gender, and duration of HCV infection and followed-up during 52 months. The progression to cirrhosis was the primary outcome measure. The impact of HIV on HCV-RNA load, histologic activity index, response to interferon therapy, and liver-related death was also considered. In HIV-positive patients, chronic hepatitis C was characterized by higher serum HCV-RNA levels (P =.012), higher total Knodell score (P =.011), and poorer sustained response to interferon therapy (P =.009). High serum HCV-RNA level was associated with low CD4-lymphocyte count (P =.001). Necroinflamatory score was higher in HIV-positive patients (P =.023) independently of the CD4-lymphocyte count, whereas increased fibrosis was related to decreased CD4-lymphocyte count (P =.011). The progression to cirrhosis was accelerated in HIV-positive patients with low CD4 cell count (RR = 4.06, P =.024) and in interferon-untreated patients (RR = 4.76, P =.001), independently of age at HCV infection (P =.001). Cirrhosis caused death in 5 HIV-positive patients. The risk of death related to cirrhosis was increased in heavy drinkers (RR = 10.8, P =.001) and in HIV-positive patients with CD4 cell count less than 200/mm(3) (RR = 11.9, P =.007). In this retrospective cohort study, HIV coinfection worsened the outcome of chronic hepatitis C, increasing both serum HCV-RNA level and liver damage and decreasing sustained response to interferon therapy. Age and alcohol were cofactors associated with cirrhosis and mortality. Interferon therapy had a protective effect against HCV-related cirrhosis no matter what the patient's HIV status was.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / etiology*
  • HIV Infections / physiopathology
  • HIV Seronegativity
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / etiology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / physiopathology*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / physiopathology
  • Interferons / therapeutic use
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load


  • Interferons