Hepatitis C now poses one of the most serious clinical challenges to people
living with HIV. Almost a third of all people living with HIV in Europe also
have hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.1
Co-infection with HIV speeds up the rate at which hepatitis C causes liver
damage. Cirrhosis and liver cancer occur much more quickly in people with HIV
and HCV co-infection.
Antiretroviral treatment for HIV has reduced the number of deaths caused by
HIV, and liver disease caused by hepatitis C is now one of the most frequent
causes of death among people living with HIV in Europe.
European guidelines recommend that all people living with HIV should be
tested for hepatitis C infection.
Mothers with HIV and HCV co-infection are significantly more likely to
transmit hepatitis C to their babies while giving birth.
Hepatitis C infection does not speed up HIV disease progression but
untreated HIV infection does speed up the rate of liver damage caused by
hepatitis C. For this reason European guidelines recommend that all people
living with HIV should receive treatment for hepatitis C regardless of the
stage of liver disease. Treatment of people with co-infection should be carried
out by doctors experienced in the treatment of both infections.