for Veterans and the Public
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will having hepatitis C cause problems with your HIV?
If you are infected with both HIV and hepatitis C, you may be concerned that the two infections will be more damaging or will be impossible to treat. There are some things that can be more serious and more complicated, but it is important to realize that both viruses can still be treated and managed.
If you are infected with HIV and hepatitis C, compared to people with HIV alone, there is:
- No effect on your HIV viral load or CD4 count
- No increase in HIV problems or control of your HIV
- Higher risk of having some degree of liver damage
- Higher risk of increased levels of liver enzymes or "liver toxicity" when taking HIV medicines
If you are infected with HIV and hepatitis C, compared to people with hepatitis C alone, there is:
- Faster accumulation of damage to the liver and higher risk of developing cirrhosis
- Stronger reason to consider hepatitis C medications in order to reduce liver damage
- Higher risk of developing liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)
- Hepatitis C virus may be more difficult to cure, though this is less true with newer medications
- Still potential for liver transplant if needed and appropriate.
- Your HIV provider can prescribe a "liver-friendly" HIV regimen, which should lower your risk of liver problems.
- Even though the risk of liver problems is higher, still most patients with both viruses never develop liver problems, and those who do can be diagnosed by simple blood tests.
- Even with both viruses, hepatitis C takes a long time--many, many years--to cause liver problems in most people.
- Even with both viruses, you can still be treated for hepatitis C and treatments for hepatitis C are expanding and improving, for all patients, including patients with both viruses.