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Reuters Health Information (2005-10-07): Hepatitis does not lower quality of life in HIV patients


Hepatitis does not lower quality of life in HIV patients

Last Updated: 2005-10-07 13:30:25 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - There appears to be no significant difference in the quality of life among patients with HIV infection alone and those who also have viral hepatitis, according to researchers.

Dr. Brennan M. R. Spiegel told Reuters Health, "despite the widely held belief that coinfection with HIV and viral hepatitis is much worse on quality of life than infection with HIV alone, we found that there is no real difference in quality of life between patients with one versus both infections."

"This is important," he added, "because some patients with both HIV and viral hepatitis -- such as hepatitis B or C -- are told that their quality of life will improve dramatically if they receive treatment for the viral hepatitis."

Dr. Spiegel of the UCLA/VA Center for Outcomes Research and Education, Los Angeles and colleagues examined data on a nationally representative sample of 1874 HIV patients.

Of these, 279 had hepatitis C coinfection and 122 had hepatitis B coinfection. Twenty of the patients had both hepatitis B and C coinfection, according to the report in the September issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

By means of responses to interviews conducted at baseline and twice during follow-up, the researchers established that there were no initial differences in physical and mental health or in quality of life across groups. At follow-up there were still no differences in disease burden as assessed by quality-of-life questionnaires.

"Our data suggest that treating viral hepatitis in the setting of HIV might not improve quality of life, independent of whether or not it improves other biological outcomes like liver damage," continued Dr. Spiegel.

This does not imply that "treatment of viral hepatitis is contraindicated in the setting of HIV," he added. But "should simply be kept in mind for patients who are unsure about whether or not to receive additional antiviral therapy for hepatitis, or for those who are otherwise ineligible for treatment."

Am J Gastroenterol 2005;100:1984-1994.

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