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Hepatitis C/HIV co-infection means a person is infected with both the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). There are an estimated 400,000 persons co-infected with HCV/HIV in the United States. Intravenous drug use seems to increase the risk of co-infection; it is estimated that 60%-90% of people who contracted HIV from intravenous drug use also have HCV.HCV/HIV Similarities
- High levels of viral replication
- Cause of chronic infection that can persist for many years
- Most people do not experience symptoms early in the course of infection
Because HIV diminishes the ability of the immune system to fight off infection, it speeds up the rate of liver damage caused by HCV. This places the co-infected patient at a greater risk for cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure compared to persons infected with HCV alone.
One of the functions of the liver is to process medications. It is very important that those patients co-infected with HCV/HIV take precautions to take care of their liver.
There is a cure for hepatitis C. HCV is treated with antiviral medicines. Clients may be linked to the Florida Department of Health's AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) for hepatitis C treatment if co-infected with HIV.