Introduction to HIV and HCV Coinfection


What is hepatitis C?
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a disease that infects the liver. Hep C can cause lifelong infection, and over time it can cause fibrosis (mild to moderate liver scarring), cirrhosis (serious liver scarring), liver cancer, liver failure and death.

What is HIV?
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) mostly infects CD4 cells, also known as T cells. These white blood cells coordinate the immune system to fight disease. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) is a condition caused by HIV. When your immune system breaks down, you can develop many serious, often deadly infections and cancers known as opportunistic infections.

HIV can worsen hepatitis C. Not only does HIV increase the risk of liver damage, but it can also speed up the onset of liver damage following infection. For these reasons, hepatitis C is considered an AIDS-related opportunistic infection, at least in the eyes of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Infectious Disease Society of America.

It is important for people who are coinfected with HIV and HCV to work closely with their health care providers in order to safely and effectively monitor and treat both conditions.

If you are living with HCV and are NOT coinfected with HIV, please check out HEP’s comprehensive lesson on the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of hepatitis C.

If you are living with HIV and are NOT coinfected with HCV, please check out POZ’s comprehensive lesson on the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of HIV.

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