Studies – Advance Knowledge of HIV Impact on Hepatitis C Infection and Genes That May Thwart HCV

Infectious disease experts at Johns Hopkins have found that among people infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), co-infection with HIV, speeds damage and scarring of liver tissue by almost a decade.

In a second study of HCV infection, the Johns Hopkins research team participated in the discovery of two genetic mutations that make it more likely that patients’ immune systems can rid the body of HCV. Both studies are described in articles published online in February ahead of print in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

“Our latest study results suggest that HIV might promote aging and disease progression in people with HCV,” says infectious disease specialist and senior investigator, David L. Thomas, M.D., M.P.H. Thomas, who is the Stanhope Bayne-Jones Professor and director of infectious diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor at the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, says that among 1,176 study participants, those co-infected with HCV and HIV showed the same severity of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis as those who were infected only with HCV but were 9.2 years older. All study participants were current and former intravenous drug users from Baltimore whose health and disease progression were being monitored with bi-monthly check-ups and liver tissue samples taken from 2006 to 2011.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a quarter of the 3.2 million Americans chronically infected with HCV are also infected with HIV.

Thomas says the findings may help physicians predict the people who are most likely to self-recover from exposure to HCV, and those who will most likely require aggressive treatment right away.

The press release can be accessed at:
http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-03/jhm-sak030413.php

Free access to the articles is available for a limited time at: http://annals.org/onlineFirst.aspx

Source: – John Hopkins Medicine – March 4, 2013

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