World Hepatitis Day: What is HIV/HCV co-infection?

By Bhavyajyoti Chilukoti | Published:Mon, July 24, 2017 5:17pm

Does suffering from HIV increase your risk of hepatitis C? Read to know.

July 28th is World Hepatitis Day. The theme for this year is "Eliminate Hepatitis."

Hepatitis is one of the leading causes of liver disease that can also put you at risk of various infections. According to WHO (World Health Organisation), globally, in 2015, an estimated 257 million people were living with chronic HBV infection and 71 million people with chronic HCV infection. However, what many people are unaware of is the co-infection of HIV and hepatitis C. If you are suffering from HIV, then the chances of getting infected with Hepatitis C is high. Hence, our expert Dr V Sam Prasad, Country Programme Director, AIDS Healthcare Foundation explains about HIV/HCV coinfection.

What is HIV/HCV coinfection?

HIV/HCV coinfection is when you have HIV and hepatitis C infection together. This is because, if you have HIV, a condition in which the immunity is compromised, it puts you at a higher risk of suffering from infections. People with HIV are commonly at risk of liver diseases. It is stated that around 14 - 18% of deaths in people with HIV occur due to liver disease, of which hepatitis C infection is most prevalent.

How common is HIV/HCV coinfection?

Although HIV and hepatitis C coinfection is relatively common, it can happen. If you have contracted HIV from intravenous drug use (IDU), the rate of coinfection is very high, 50 - 90%. The risk of contracting hepatitis C virus is high through blood transmission either by needle pricks, getting tattoos or having unprotected sex. Moreover, it can be transmitted sexually. Hence, sharing needles, IDU and having multiple sex partners can up the risk. Here are 6 sex tips to save your liver from hepatitis C. Also, if you had a blood transfusion before 1992 or transfusion of clotting factor before 1987, the risk of HIV/HCV infection is high. This is because strict screening regulations have been followed after 1992 for blood transfusion and 1987 for clotting factor.

Unlike now, where there is a strict screening process for blood transfusion to check infections like HIV, hepatitis, VDRL and other diseases, it was not the case earlier. Earlier, people were taking infusions at unauthorised centres, which didn't take any history of the person who donated blood. Moreover, screening for HIV or HCV was also not done. As the risk of hepatitis C infection in people with HIV is high, following precaution is the only way to prevent it as there is no vaccine available for hepatitis C just like Hepatitis A and hepatitis B.

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Published:Mon, July 24, 2017 5:17pm

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Viral Infection HIV infection

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