Hepatocellular carcinoma in HIV-infected patients with chronic hepatitis C

J García-Samaniego, M Rodríguez, J Berenguer, R Rodríguez-Rosado, J Carbó, V Asensi, V Soriano
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2001, 96 (1): 179-83

OBJECTIVES: Chronic hepatitis C is frequently seen in HIV-positive subjects infected through needle sharing or transfusion of contaminated blood products. Progression to end-stage liver disease seems to occur faster in these patients. As the life expectancy of HIV-infected persons has dramatically improved since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapies, cirrhosis and eventually hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) may be recognized at an increasing rate in patients coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

METHODS: We identified the main features of HIV-infected individuals with end-stage liver disease due to HCV infection and diagnosed with HCC in three HIV/AIDS referral centers, and compared these features to those of a control group of patients with HCV-related HCC but without HIV infection.

RESULTS: Seven HIV-infected patients were identified. Of these, six were <45 yr of age and had been intravenous drug users. The mean time between exposure to HCV and the development of HCC was estimated to be 17.8 yr. Two subjects were coinfected with hepatitis B and delta viruses, respectively. Only one individual had been diagnosed of an AIDS-defining condition before the diagnosis of HCC was made. However, all subjects had < 500 CD4+ T cells at the time of HCC diagnosis. Five died within the first 4 months of follow-up. Patients in the control group (n = 31) were significantly older (68.9 +/- 8.9 vs 42.2 +/- 10.4; p < 0.001) and the duration of HCV infection was significantly longer (28.1 +/- 10.9 vs 17.8 +/- 2.7; p < 0.05) than in those with HIV-HCV coinfection.

CONCLUSIONS: HCC seems to occur at a younger age and after a shorter period of HCV infection in subjects coinfected with HIV. Thus, treatment of CHC should be encouraged in HIV-positive patients, and in those with HCV-related cirrhosis the periodic monitoring of alpha-fetoprotein and abdominal ultrasonography should be recommended.

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