AIMS: To evaluate the histological changes seen in liver biopsies after interferon (IFN) treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. METHODS: Twenty four intravenous drug users with chronic hepatitis C were investigated histologically before beginning a 12 month course of IFN treatment and 18 months later. Twelve were HIV positive, without opportunistic or other viral infections (group A), and 12 were HIV negative (group B). RESULTS: According to alanine amino-transferase concentrations, four sustained responders and eight non-responders were found in group A; six sustained responders, five relapsers, and one non-responder were found in group B. HCV RNA became negative in one sustained responder of group A and in the six sustained responders of group B. When histological findings of biopsies performed before therapy and 18 months later were compared, no significant changes in the mean value of Knodell's index and subindices were found in group A, whereas in group B Knodell's index, piecemeal necrosis, and focal hepatocellular necrosis decreased significantly. CONCLUSIONS: In chronic hepatitis C, coinfection with HIV showed a tendency towards a lower response to IFN, although this did not reach statistical significance; however, none of the HIV positive patients developed cirrhosis during the follow up and this should be considered in clinical management of such patients.
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