HCV/ HIV co-infection: time to re-evaluate the role of HIV in the liver?

J Viral Hepat. 2008 May;15(5):323-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2008.00970.x. Epub 2008 Jan 17.


Because of major advances in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, HIV-positive persons now live longer, healthier lives; however, hepatitis C virus (HCV) is increasingly recognized as a major cause of morbidity and mortality in this population. Among HCV-infected persons, HIV co-infection is associated with increased HCV RNA levels, increased hepatic inflammation and fibrosis, and more rapid progression to cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease. Compounding this problem are reduced HCV treatment response rates among HCV/HIV co-infected persons. Moreover, antiretroviral therapy used to suppress HIV replication is often associated with a paradoxical increase in HCV RNA levels, as well as hepatotoxicity. Despite the adverse clinical consequences of HCV/HIV co-infection, the mechanisms by which these two viruses interact at the cellular level remain largely unexplored. This review focuses on the evidence demonstrating direct infection of hepatocytes by HIV, as well as the indirect mechanisms by which HIV may regulate HCV replication at the cellular level. A comprehensive understanding of virus-virus and virus-cell interactions is critical to the development of novel treatment strategies to combat HCV/HIV co-infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • HIV / physiology
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Hepacivirus / physiology
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatocytes / virology
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / virology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / virology