Interferon-Based Therapy Benefited HCV/HIV Coinfected Patients Despite Viral Relapse

Results of a study of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)/HIV coinfection indicated that therapy with interferon and ribavirin provided clinical benefit even in those who relapsed after treatment. The researchers evaluated 1,599 patients from the Spanish HIV/AIDS study GESIDA 3603, which included patients coinfected with HCV and HIV who were treated with interferon and ribavirin at 19 Spanish medical centers.

At 24 weeks posttreatment, 584 patients had sustained virologic response (SVR), while 765 had no response and 250 relapsed after the end of treatment. There were associations between SVR and having received pegylated interferon, low HCV RNA levels, lack of advanced fibrosis, daily alcohol intake below 50 grams, and HCV genotype 2 or 3. Patients with SVR had lower overall liver-related, AIDS-related, and non-AIDS/nonliver-related mortality rates compared with the other groups. Those who relapsed had lower overall and liver-related mortality rates than nonresponders. Risk for liver-related events (decompensation, liver cancer, liver transplant, and liver-related death) was lowest in the SVR group and lower among relapsers than nonresponders. Also, patients who experienced SVR had less liver stiffness than the other groups and relapsers had less liver stiffness than nonresponders.

According to researcher Juan Berenguer, M.D., from the infectious disease and HIV unit at Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón in Madrid, findings suggested that for patients with HCV/HIV coinfection, viral relapse after HCV treatment provided some clinical benefits.

The full report, "Clinical Effects of Viral Relapse After Interferon Plus Ribavirin in Patients Co-Infected With Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Hepatitis C Virus," was published in the Journal of Hepatology (2013; 58 (6): 1104-1112).