- Women co-infected with HIV and Hep C more likely to develop severe liver damage than men.
Canadian women co-infected with Hep C and HIV are more likely to develop severe liver damage (fibrosis) than co-infected men reported researchers at the Third International Workshop on HIV and Women in Toronto in January, 2013. The study of 308 people (221 men and 87 women), found women to be more than twice as likely to progress to liver fibrosis as men. The different levels of liver damage between men and women could not be explained by socio-demographics (i.e. age, racial background), length of Hep C infection, alcohol use or responsiveness to HIV treatment. The researchers suggest that “metabolic factors or antiretroviral therapy-induced liver toxicity may differ between men and women and play roles in accelerating liver fibrosis in women.
- Lower cognitive scores in women co-infected with Hep C and HIV
Women co-infected with Hep C and HIV have lower cognitive scores than women who only have HIV or who are uninfected, according to a small study presented at the Third International Workshop on HIV and Women in Toronto in January, 2013. The researchers from Vancouver, B.C. found that the co-infected women had a significantly lower average score across all of the cognitive functions including fine motor speed and dexterity, learning and memory, processing speed and executive function. No difference was found between the cognitive scores of the HIV positive women and the uninfected women. More research is needed about the impact of co-infection on women’s cognitive abilities. The researchers believe their findings “highlight the importance of assessing for other viral infections in HIV positive women and confirm literature suggesting the additional, detrimental impact hepatitis C may have on neurocognitive performance.” (Natap.com, January 2013, in English)
Among HIV-positive people, having Hep C is associated with rapid liver damage, although the pace of damage varies from person to person. Reporting in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers from New York studied four HIV positive men who became infected with Hep C but refused treatment or who were treated but did not clear the virus. The men were unlikely to have been infected through injection drug use, most likely contracting the virus through unprotected anal sex. All four men experienced severe liver damage a few years after contracting Hep C. The researchers are unclear as to what caused the severe liver damage but they suspect that immune deficiency played a role or possibly another factor such as a germ. The research team states that more research is needed to better understand the reasons for “this devastating rate of liver damage” in people co-infected with Hep C and HIV. (www.catie.ca, January 2013, in English and French)