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An estimated one-third of individuals positive for HIV are also infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Chronic infection with HCV can lead to serious liver disease including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Liver-related disease is among the leading causes of death in patients with HIV, and individuals with HIV and HCV co-infection are found to progress more rapidly to serious liver disease than mono-infected individuals. The mechanism by which HIV affects HCV infection in the absence of immunosuppression by HIV is currently unknown. In a recent article published in BMC Immunology, Qu et al. demonstrated that HIV tat is capable of inducing IP-10 expression. Further, they were able to show that HIV tat, when added to cells, was able to enhance the replication of HCV. Importantly, the increase in HCV replication by tat was found to be dependent on IP-10. This work has important implications for understanding the effect HIV has on the outcome of HCV infection in co-infected individuals. The findings of Qu et al. may inform the design of intervention and treatment strategies for co-infected individuals.
Please see related article: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2172/13/15.