HIV/AIDS

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How Can Coinfection with HIV and Hepatitis C Affect Me

for Veterans and the Public

How can coinfection affect me?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. It is spread mainly through blood and sexual contact. You can have HIV and feel healthy. Over many years, however, the virus can wear down your body's immune system, making it hard for your body to fight off dangerous infections. Having HIV also can increase your risk of getting certain cancers.

Even though there is no cure for HIV infection, there are many medications that can help people with HIV live longer and healthier lives.

You will want to learn much more about HIV, so that you can do everything possible to stay healthy. You also will need to learn how to avoid giving HIV to others.

Hepatitis C is a disease of your liver. It is caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus. The virus is spread mainly through contact with infected blood.

Many people don't know that they have hepatitis C, because the symptoms of the infection often are very mild. Some people with hepatitis C feel tired or have an upset stomach. Others may not have any symptoms at all.

Even if you do not have any symptoms, hepatitis C is still a serious illness. There are medications, called interferon and ribavirin, that can make the hepatitis C virus go away in some people, and even better medications are being developed. It is important to get care for hepatitis C because it stays in your body. You can give hepatitis C to someone else and can develop other health problems yourself.

Hepatitis C is the main cause of cirrhosis of the liver in the United States in 2006. In cirrhosis, healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. Over time, with cirrhosis, the liver can stop functioning well, and a person even may need to be considered for a liver transplant. You can find more information on the VA Hepatitis C websiteLink will take you to our Viral Hepatitis internet site

Will coinfection affect my treatments?

Having hepatitis C will not affect your HIV treatments. Some HIV treatments can damage your liver, so your doctor may choose specific drugs for you.

Having HIV means medications to treat hepatitis C don't work quite as well in you. Still, the drugs are successful 30-75% of the time. Working closely with your doctor will give you the best chance for successful treatment.