Incidence of hepatitis C virus infections among HIVs
A coinfection is when someone has two or more infections at the same time. People living with HIV are at risk of developing coinfections such as hepatitis C because HIV weakens the immune system, which leaves the body more vulnerable to other infections and illnesses. Hepatitis C virus infections results from infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) and causes inflammation of the liver. Hepatitis C virus infections is a viral, blood-borne infection that damages the liver, one of the body’s most important organs.
2.3 million people have HIV and hepatitis C co-infection – 6.2% of people living with HIV globally. Treatment for HIV is now enabling people to live longer, but liver disease in people with HIV and hepatitis C co-infection is becoming a major cause of illness and death.
People living with HIV may consider having regular tests for hepatitis C. Often, hepatitis C does not lead to symptoms until the virus has caused serious liver damage. The disease is difficult to recognize in the acute phase, which is why testing is important. Unlike hepatitis A and B, there is no vaccine available for hepatitis C. Fortunately, both acute and chronic hepatitis C infections are curable.
Ways to prevent hepatitis C include:
- Do not share needles
- Do not share personal hygiene items, such as toothbrushes and shaving razors
- Only use qualified and reputable practitioners for tattoos and piercings
- Use condoms during sex
WHO emphasizes, is the potential for drug-drug interactions between medications for HIV and hepatitis C. When these may occur, the regimens for either infection may need to be altered. However, modern HIV medications rarely have the harmful effects on the liver that characterised some older drugs. Hepatitis C treatment is generally provided to people who are already taking HIV treatment