HIV sufferers need hepatitis safeguards

Stronger protections are needed to prevent people with HIV from also becoming infected with hepatitis, researchers argue in a new study led by Michigan State University.

Behaviors that put people at higher risk of contracting HIV – sharing needles, having unprotected sex or getting blood transfusions, for instance – also raise their risk of getting or C, diseases that attack the liver and, if untreated, can be deadly.

The study, which included all registered cases of HIV in Michigan, found about four percent of HIV-positive people also had hepatitis. That's less than some previous studies have found elsewhere, but it still represents a significant public health concern, said Zahid Butt, who led the research as a doctoral student in MSU's Department of Epidemiology and .

"Ultimately, because of the fact that they're suffering from two diseases, they're more likely to die than if they only have one," said Butt, who now runs the epidemiology division of a public health institute in Islamabad, Pakistan.

For example, having HIV more than triples the risk of , and liver-related death among individuals who also have , according to the .

The researchers found the highest rate of co-infection among males, particularly those who marked their race as "other," which included anything other than white, black or Hispanic. Butt said that was surprising, since previous studies have found were at highest risk for co-infection.

"It could be that we're getting a cohort of people who were not vaccinated in childhood because they're coming from countries that don't require vaccination," he said. "It also may be that some marginalized groups might not get vaccinated because they don't trust the ."

Butt said all states should require children to be vaccinated against hepatitis B when they go to school, as most states already do (there is no hepatitis C vaccine). He also said HIV-positive people should protect themselves from hepatitis B by getting vaccinated.

Published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection, the study also found that people who had received transfusions or other blood products were at the highest risk for co-infection. Butt said that raises concerns about whether current safeguards are sufficient to protect people who need transfusions.

"There's a real need for proper screening of blood products," he said. "Even with the screening process we have in place, there was a high risk of infection through blood products. We still have a four percent co-infection prevalence, which shouldn't be the case."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

4 hours ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

9 hours ago

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.