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."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

'Ebola will return', veteran scientist warns

date 3 hours ago

Congolese expert Jean-Jacques Muyembe may be little known to the public, but he has been one of the world's top Ebola investigators since the first epidemic erupted in central Africa in 1976.

Score IDs patients with upper extremity DVT at low risk

date 18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with upper-extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT), six easily available factors can be used to create a score that identifies those at low risk of adverse events during the first ...

Combined drug treatment combats kidney disease

date May 29, 2015

A recent discovery by drug researchers whereby coupling specific cell membrane receptors has altered kidney cell function has triggered a re-think of how to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) more effectively.

Active substance targeting dreaded hospital germs

date May 29, 2015

In the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), scientists have conducted clinical studies on an active substance against the dreaded hospital pathogen Staphylococcus aureus: a highly effective protein from bacteriophages ...

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.