HepCinfoUpdates – 4.14

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Treatment Update: Hepatitis viruses

The latest issue of Treatment Update (TU197) covers new research on the use of treatment as prevention as a strategy for decreasing the spread of Hep C, an overview of liver cancer in Canada, as well as risk factors, screening and treatment options for liver cancer.

TreatmentUpdate is CATIE’s flagship digest on cutting-edge developments in HIV and hepatitis C research and treatment. Stay up to date with a subscription to TU and other CATIE publications. (catie.ca, July 2013, in English and French)

Marijuana not associated with liver damage in people co-infected with Hep C and HIV

Smoking marijuana does not lead to liver disease progression among people co-infected with Hep C and HIV, reported researchers from McGill University, Montreal, QC in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. The researchers followed participants from the Canadian Coinfection Cohort study for just over two and a half years, on average.  They found that participants smoked an average of seven joints a week, with 40% smoking daily. Their results contrast with previous research, which has found that daily marijuana use was associated with liver damage. The McGill researchers think that the earlier results could be explained by people perhaps using more marijuana to relieve symptoms as their liver disease progresses, not that the marijuana was causing the liver damage. Follow-up over a longer period of time would help assess the impact of longer term marijuana use.  (Healio.com, July 2013, in English)

FibroScan effective for predicting liver failure in people co-infected with Hep C and HIV

FibroScan is effective for monitoring liver failure in people co-infected with Hep C and HIV reported researchers at the 7th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention, (IAS 2013) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Researchers compared the performance of FibroScan and biopsy at determining decompensation (liver failure) and death. FibroScan (also known as transient elastometry) is a non-invasive technology for measuring liver damage by assessing liver stiffness—the stiffer the liver is, the more damaged it is.  Biopsy, which involves taking a liver tissue sample and assessing it for damage, is considered the gold standard for assessing liver damage. However, it is expensive and often painful. “The performance of models based on [transient elastometry] to predict overall survival among HIV/HCV coinfected patients was similar to that of [liver biopsy]-based models,” while “[transient elastometry] predicts decompensations better than [liver biopsy]-based models,” the researchers concluded.  (HIVandhepatitis.com, July 2013, in English)

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