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 sometimes by sex. Hepatitis C usually remains in the body unless it is treated, and over time it can cause health problems, such as cirrhosis (or scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. Hepatitis C can be cured with treatment, and all persons with HIV and hepatitis C coinfection should receive treatment for both infections.
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 have been if you didn't have HIV. Hepatitis C can be cured, though, and treatment is recommended.
If you have both diseases, your treatments can be affected, too. Some HIV treatments can damage your liver, so your health care provider may want you to try other treatments. And when you take medicines to treat HCV, your provider may change your HIV medicines to avoid interactions between the two sets of medicines.
These illnesses are very different, so it is important that you learn about both of them, and receive treatment for both. For more information, go to HIV and Hepatitis C Coinfection in the Just Diagnosed section.