Hepatitis C and HIV Co-Infection
Because both HCV and HIV (the virus that causes AIDS) are transmitted by exposure to infected blood or contaminated bodily fluids, infections with both viruses is a significant problem, especially among injection drug users, individuals engaging in unprotected sex, and in the newborns of co-infected women.
Current estimates suggest that about 30% of HIV infected individual are also HCV-positive and about 5% of HCV infected individuals also are HIV-positive.
Co-infected patients often have higher levels of HCV than patients infected by HCV alone. In recent years, liver disease from hepatitis C has become the leading non-AIDS cause of death in the U.S. for individuals co-infected with HIV. With the introduction of more effective therapies, people with HIV are living longer. If they are co-infected with HCV, there is more time for other complications of chronic hepatitis C to develop – cirrhosis, liver cancer, and end-stage liver disease. Among co-infected pregnant women, those with high levels of HCV are more likely to transmit HCV to their newborn.