for Veterans and the Public
What is HIV and hepatitis C coinfection?
Coinfection is a medical term meaning that you have two or more infections in your body at the same time. If you have HIV and hepatitis C coinfection, then you have both HIV and hepatitis C.
HIV is spread mainly through the blood and through sexual contact. It can wear down your body's immune system, making it hard for your body to fight off dangerous infections.
Hepatitis C is a disease that affects your liver. It is caused by a virus called the hepatitis C virus and it is spread mainly by blood, but rarely by sex. In many cases, if you have hepatitis C, it never goes away. Over time, it can cause other health problems, such as cirrhosis (or scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.
How does being coinfected affect your health?
HIV affects your whole immune system, including your body's ability to fight off hepatitis C. As a result, you might develop a case of hepatitis C that is worse than it would be if you didn't have HIV.
If you have both diseases, your treatments can be affected, too. Some HIV treatments can damage your liver, so your doctor may want you to try other treatments. And if you have HIV, you might experience worse side effects or other problems when you take medicines for hepatitis C.
These illnesses are very different, so it is important that you learn about both of them. For more information, go to HIV and Hepatitis C Coinfection in the Just Diagnosed section.