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1.  Transient elastography: A non-invasive tool for assessing liver fibrosis in HIV/HCV patients 
AIM: To assess the prevalence of advanced liver fibrosis (ALF) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV/HCV patients using transient elastography, and to identify factors associated with ALF.
METHODS: Between September 2008 and October 2009, 71 HIV mono-infected, 57 HIV/HCV co-infected and 53 HCV mono-infected patients on regular follow-up at our Center were enrolled in this study. Alcohol intake, the main parameters of liver function, presence of HCV-RNA, HIV-RNA, duration of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) and CD4 cell count were recorded. ALF was defined as liver stiffness (LS) ≥ 9.5 kPa. To estimate liver fibrosis (LF) a further 2 reliable biochemical scores, aspartate aminotransferase platelet ratio index (APRI) and FIB-4, were also used.
RESULTS: LS values of co-infected patients were higher than in either HIV or HCV mono-infected patients (χ2MH = 4, P < 0.04). In fact, LS ≥ 9.5 was significantly higher in co-infected than in HIV and HCV mono-infected patients (χ2 = 5, P < 0.03). Also APRI and the FIB-4 index showed more LF in co-infected than in HIV mono-infected patients (P < 0.0001), but not in HCV mono-infected patients. In HIV⁄HCV co-infected patients, the extent of LS was significantly associated with alcohol intake (P < 0.04) and lower CD4+ cell count (P < 0.02). In HCV patients, LS was correlated with alcohol intake (P < 0.001) and cholesterol levels (P < 0.03). Body mass index, diabetes, HCV- and HIV-viremia were not significantly correlated with LS. In addition, 20% of co-infected patients had virologically unsuccessful HAART; in 50% compliance was low, CD4+ levels were < 400 cells/mm3 and LS was > 9.5 kPa. There was no significant correlation between extent of LF and HAART exposure or duration of HAART exposure, in particular with specific dideoxynucleoside analogues.
CONCLUSION: ALF was more frequent in co-infected than mono-infected patients. This result correlated with lower CD4 levels. Protective immunological effects of HAART on LF progression outweigh its hepatotoxic effects.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v16.i41.5225
PMCID: PMC2975093  PMID: 21049556
Liver fibrosis; Transient elastography; Aspartate aminotransferase platelet ratio index; FIB-4 test; Fibrosis evaluation; Human immunodeficiency virus infection; Hepatitis C virus infection
2.  Kidney and liver organ transplantation in persons with human immunodeficiency virus 
Executive Summary
Objective
The objective of this analysis is to determine the effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in persons with end stage organ failure (ESOF) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV+)
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Patients with end stage organ failure who have been unresponsive to other forms of treatment eventually require solid organ transplantation. Similar to persons who are HIV negative (HIV−), persons living with HIV infection (HIV+) are at risk for ESOF from viral (e.g. hepatitis B and C) and non-viral aetiologies (e.g. coronary artery disease, diabetes, hepatocellular carcinoma). Additionally, HIV+ persons also incur risks of ESOF from HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN), accelerated liver damage from hepatitis C virus (HCV+), with which an estimated 30% of HIV positive (HIV+) persons are co-infected, and coronary artery disease secondary to antiretroviral therapy. Concerns that the need for post transplant immunosuppression and/or the interaction of immunosuppressive drugs with antiretroviral agents may accelerate the progression of HIV disease, as well as the risk of opportunistic infections post transplantation, have led to uncertainty regarding the overall benefit of transplantation among HIV+ patients. Moreover, the scarcity of donor organs and their use in a population where the clinical benefit of transplantation is uncertain has limited the availability of organ transplantation to persons living with ESOF and HIV.
With the development of highly active anti retroviral therapy (HAART), which has been available in Canada since 1997, there has been improved survival and health-related quality of life for persons living with HIV. HAART can suppress HIV replication, enhance immune function, and slow disease progression. HAART managed persons can now be expected to live longer than those in the pre-HAART era and as a result many will now experience ESOF well before they experience life-threatening conditions related to HIV infection. Given their improved prognosis and the burden of illness they may experience from ESOF, the benefit of solid organ transplantation for HIV+ patients needs to be reassessed.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
What are the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of solid organ transplantation in HIV+ persons with ESOF?
Literature Search
A literature search was performed on September 22, 2009 using OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), the Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment (INAHTA) for studies published from January 1, 1996 to September 22, 2009.
Inclusion Criteria
Systematic review with or without a Meta analysis, RCT, Non-RCT with controls
HIV+ population undergoing solid organ transplantation
HIV+ population managed with HAART therapy
Controls include persons undergoing solid organ transplantation who are i) HIV− ii) HCV+ mono-infected, and iii) HIV+ persons with ESOF not transplanted.
Studies that completed and reported results of a Kaplan-Meier Survival Curve analysis.
Studies with a minimum (mean or medium) follow up of 1-year.
English language citations
Exclusion Criteria
Case reports and case series were excluded form this review.
Outcomes of Interest
i) Risk of Death after transplantation
ii) Death censored graft survival (DCGS)
iii) HIV disease progression defined as the post transplant incidence of:
- opportunistic infections or neoplasms,
- CD4+ T-cell count < 200mm3, and
- any detectable level of plasma HIV viral load.
iv) Acute graft rejection,
v) Return to dialysis,
vi) Recurrence of HCV infection
Summary of Findings
No direct evidence comparing an HIV+ cohort undergoing transplantation with the same not undergoing transplantation (wait list) was found in the literature search.
The results of this review are reported for the following comparison cohorts undergoing transplantation:
i) Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− cohort
ii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ cohort compared with HIV− negative cohort
iii) Liver Transplantation: HIV+ HCV+ (co-infected) cohort compared with HCV+ (mono-infected) cohort
Kidney Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a pooled HIV+ cohort sample size of 285 patients across four studies, the risk of death after kidney transplantation in an HIV+ cohort does not differ to that of an HIV− cohort [hazard ratio (HR): 0.90; 95% CI: 0.36, 2.23]. The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported in one study with an HIV+ cohort sample size of 100, and was statistically significantly different (p=.03) to that in the HIV− cohort (n=36,492). However, the quality of evidence supporting this outcome was determined to be very low. There was also uncertainty in the rate of return to dialysis after kidney transplantation in both the HIV+ and HIV− groups and the effect, if any, this may have on patient survival. Because of the very low quality evidence rating, the effect of kidney transplantation on HIV-disease progression is uncertain.
The rate of acute graft rejection was determined using the data from one study. There was a nonsignificant difference between the HIV+ and HIV− cohorts (OR 0.13; 95% CI: 0.01, 2.64), although again, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in this estimate of effect.
Liver Transplantation: HIV+ vs. HIV−
Based on a combined HIV+ cohort sample size of 198 patient across five studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation in an HIV+ cohort (with at least 50% of the cohort co-infected with HCV+) is statistically significantly 64% greater compared with an HIV− cohort (HR: 1.64; 95% CI: 1.32, 2.02). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low.
Death censored graft survival was reported for an HIV+ cohort in one study (n=11) however the DCGS rate of the contemporaneous control HIV− cohort was not reported. Because of sparse data the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low indicating death censored graft survival is uncertain.
Both the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant with an incidence of opportunistic infection of 20.5%. However, the quality of this evidence for these outcomes is very low indicating uncertainty in these effects. Similarly, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the rate of acute graft rejection among both the HIV+ and HIV− groups
Liver Transplantation: HIV+/HCV+ vs. HCV+
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort sample size of 156 from seven studies, the risk of death after liver transplantation is significantly greater (2.8 fold) in a co-infected cohort compared with an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (HR: 2.81; 95% CI: 1.47, 5.37). The quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. Death censored graft survival evidence was not available.
Regarding disease progression, based on a combined sample size of 71 persons in the co-infected cohort, the CD4+ T-cell count and HIV viral load appear controlled post transplant; however, again the quality of evidence supporting this outcome is very low. The rate of opportunistic infection in the co-infected cohort was 7.2%. The quality of evidence supporting this estimate is very low, indicating uncertainty in these estimates of effect.
Based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=57) the rate of acute graft rejection does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.44, 1.76). Also based on a combined HIV+/HCV+ cohort (n=83), the rate of HCV+ recurrence does not differ to that of an HCV+ mono-infected cohort (OR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.27, 1.59). In both cases, the quality of the supporting evidence was very low.
Overall, because of very low quality evidence there is uncertainty in the effect of kidney or liver transplantation in HIV+ persons with end stage organ failure compared with those not infected with HIV. Examining the economics of this issue, the cost of kidney and liver transplants in an HIV+ patient population are, on average, 56K and 147K per case, based on both Canadian and American experiences.
PMCID: PMC3377507  PMID: 23074407
3.  Assessing mortality in women with hepatitis C virus and HIV using indirect markers of fibrosis 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(5):599-607.
Objective
Co-infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. However, predictors of mortality are poorly defined and most studies have focused predominantly on co-infection in men. We evaluated whether two indirect markers of hepatic fibrosis, aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index (APRI) and FIB-4 scores, were predictive of mortality in a well defined longitudinal cohort of HCV/HIV-co-infected women on HAART.
Methods
HCV/HIV-co-infected women on antiretroviral therapy enrolled in Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a National Institutes of Health-funded prospective, multicenter, cohort study of women with and at risk for HIV infection were included. Using Cox regression analysis, associations between APRI and FIB-4 with all-cause mortality were assessed.
Results
Four hundred and fifty HCV/HIV-co-infected women, of whom 191 women died, had a median follow-up of 6.6 years and 5739 WIHS visits. Compared with women with low APRI or FIB-4 levels, severe fibrosis was significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality {APRI: hazard ratio 2.78 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.87, 4.12]; FIB-4: hazard ratio 2.58 (95% CI 1.68, 3.95)}. Crude death rates per 1000 patient-years increased with increasing liver fibrosis: 34.8 for mild, 51.3 for moderate and 167.9 for severe fibrosis as measured by FIB-4. Importantly, both APRI and FIB-4 increased during the 5 years prior to death for all women: the slope of increase was greater for women dying a liver-related death compared with nonliver-related death.
Conclusion
Both APRI and FIB-4 are independently associated with all-cause mortality in HCV/HIV-co-infected women and may have clinical prognostic utility among women with HIV and HCV.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32834fa121
PMCID: PMC3698040  PMID: 22156972
fibrosis markers; hepatitis C virus; HIV; longitudinal study; mortality
4.  Hazardous drinking is associated with elevated aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index in an urban HIV clinical cohort 
HIV medicine  2008;10(3):133-142.
Objectives:
To determine the relationship between alcohol consumption and liver fibrosis as assessed by aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI) in HIV-infected adults and to explore the relative contributions of alcohol and hepatitis C virus (HCV) to APRI among HIV/HCV co-infected adults.
Methods:
We performed a cross-sectional analysis of data from an observational clinical cohort. Alcohol consumption was categorized according to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines. We defined significant liver disease as APRI>1.5, and used multinomial logistic regression to identify correlates of increased APRI.
Results:
Among 1358 participants, 10.4% reported hazardous drinking. 11.6% had APRI>1.5, indicating liver fibrosis. Hazardous drinking was associated with increased APRI (Adj. RRR 2.30, 95% CI: 1.26-4.17). Other factors associated with increased APRI were: male gender; viral hepatitis; and HIV transmission category of injection drug use. Among co-infected individuals, 18.3% had APRI>1.5, and hazardous drinking was not associated with APRI. Among nonHCV-infected individuals, 5.3% had APRI>1.5, and hazardous drinking was associated with increased APRI (Adj. RRR 3.72, 95%CI: 1.40-9.87).
Conclusions:
Hazardous drinking is an important modifiable risk factor for liver fibrosis, particularly among non-HCV-infected patients. Clinicians and researchers must address alcohol use as the burden of liver disease increases among HIV-positive individuals.
doi:10.1111/j.1468-1293.2008.00662.x
PMCID: PMC2654191  PMID: 19207596
alcohol; APRI; liver fibrosis; viral hepatitis
5.  Impaired Hepatitis C Virus-Specific T Cell Responses and Recurrent Hepatitis C Virus in HIV Coinfection 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e492.
Background
Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific T cell responses are critical for spontaneous resolution of HCV viremia. Here we examined the effect of a lymphotropic virus, HIV-1, on the ability of coinfected patients to maintain spontaneous control of HCV infection.
Methods and Findings
We measured T cell responsiveness by lymphoproliferation and interferon-γ ELISPOT in a large cohort of HCV-infected individuals with and without HIV infection. Among 47 HCV/HIV-1-coinfected individuals, spontaneous control of HCV was associated with more frequent HCV-specific lymphoproliferative (LP) responses (35%) compared to coinfected persons who exhibited chronic HCV viremia (7%, p = 0.016), but less frequent compared to HCV controllers who were not HIV infected (86%, p = 0.003). Preservation of HCV-specific LP responses in coinfected individuals was associated with a higher nadir CD4 count (r2 = 0.45, p < 0.001) and the presence and magnitude of the HCV-specific CD8+ T cell interferon-γ response (p = 0.0014). During long-term follow-up, recurrence of HCV viremia occurred in six of 25 coinfected individuals with prior control of HCV, but in 0 of 16 HIV-1-negative HCV controllers (p = 0.03, log rank test). In these six individuals with recurrent HCV viremia, the magnitude of HCV viremia following recurrence inversely correlated with the CD4 count at time of breakthrough (r = −0.94, p = 0.017).
Conclusions
These results indicate that HIV infection impairs the immune response to HCV—including in persons who have cleared HCV infection—and that HIV-1-infected individuals with spontaneous control of HCV remain at significant risk for a second episode of HCV viremia. These findings highlight the need for repeat viral RNA testing of apparent controllers of HCV infection in the setting of HIV-1 coinfection and provide a possible explanation for the higher rate of HCV persistence observed in this population.
HIV infection impairs the immune response to HCV. Even individuals who have cleared HCV infection remain at significant risk for a second episode of HCV viremia.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Because of shared transmission routes (contaminated needles, contaminated blood products, and, to a lesser extent, unprotected sex), a large proportion of HIV-infected individuals (estimates range between 25% and 33%) are also infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). In most but not all individuals infected with HCV, the virus infection is chronic and causes liver disease that can eventually lead to liver failure. Disease progress is slow; it often takes decades until infected individuals develop serious liver disease. In people infected with both HCV and HIV, however, liver disease caused by HCV often appears sooner and progresses faster. As highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and prophylaxis of opportunistic infections increase the life span of persons living with HIV, HCV-related liver disease has become a major cause of hospital admissions and deaths among HIV-infected persons.
Why Was This Study Done?
A sizable minority of people who are infected with HCV manage to control the virus and never get liver disease, and scientists have found that these people somehow mounted a strong immune response against the hepatitis C virus. CD4+ T cells, the very immune cells that are infected and destroyed by HIV, play an important role in this immune response. The goal of the present study was to better understand how infection with HIV compromises the specific immune response to HCV and thereby the control of HCV disease progression.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited four groups of patients, 94 in total, all of whom were infected with HCV. Two groups comprised patients who were infected with HIV as well as HCV, with either high or undetectable levels of HCV (30 patients in each group). The two other groups included patients not infected with HIV, either with high or undetectable levels of HCV (17 patients in each group). The researchers focused on the individuals who, despite coinfection with HIV, were able to control their HCV infection. They found that those individuals managed to maintain relatively high levels of CD4+ T cells that specifically recognize HCV. However, a quarter of these patients (six out of 25) failed to keep HCV levels down for the entire observation period of up to 2.5 years; their blood levels of HCV rose substantially, most likely due to recurrence of the previously suppressed virus (the researchers could not be certain that none of the patients had become infected again after a new exposure to HCV-contaminated blood, but there was no evidence that they had engaged in risky behavior). The rise of HCV levels in the blood of the relapsed patients coincided with a drop in overall CD4+ T cell numbers. Following relapse in these individuals, HCV did not return to undetectable levels during the study. During the same period none of the 16 HIV-uninfected people with controlled HCV infection experienced a recurrence of detectable HCV.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Despite the relatively small numbers of patients, these results suggest that recurrence of HCV after initial control of the virus is more likely in people who are coinfected with HIV, and that HCV control is lost when CD4+ T cell counts fall. This is one more reason to test all HIV-positive patients for HCV coinfection. Coinfected patients, even those who seem to be controlling HCV and would not automatically receive HCV treatment, should be regularly tested for a rise of HCV levels. In addition, maintaining CD4+ T cells at a high level might be particularly important for those patients, which means that doctors might consider starting HAART therapy earlier than is generally recommended for HIV-infected individuals. Additional studies are needed to support these recommendations, however, especially as this study did not follow the patients long enough to determine the consequences of the observed loss of control of HCV.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030492.
AIDS Treatment Data Network factsheet on HIV/HCV coinfection
US CDC factsheet on HIV/HCV coinfection
American Liver Foundation, information on HIV and HCV
MedlinePlus pages on HCV
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030492
PMCID: PMC1705826  PMID: 17194190
6.  HIV virological rebounds but not blips predict liver fibrosis progression in antiretroviral-treated HIV/hepatitis C virus-coinfected patients 
HIV Medicine  2014;16(1):24-31.
Objectives
Antiretroviral interruption is associated with liver fibrosis progression in HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfection. It is not known what level of HIV viraemia affects fibrosis progression.
Methods
We evaluated 288 HIV/HCV-coinfected cohort participants with undetectable HIV RNA (< 50 HIV-1 RNA copies/mL) on two consecutive visits while on combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) without fibrosis [aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI) < 1.5], end-stage liver disease or HCV therapy. An HIV blip was defined as a viral load of ≥ 50 and < 1000 copies/mL, preceded and followed by undetectable values. HIV rebound was defined as: (i) HIV RNA ≥ 50 copies/mL on two consecutive visits, or (ii) a single HIV RNA measurement ≥ 1000 copies/mL. Multivariate discrete-time proportional hazards models were used to assess the effect of different viraemia levels on liver fibrosis progression (APRI ≥ 1.5).
Results
The mean age of the patients was 45 years, 74% were male, 81% reported a history of injecting drug use, 51% currently used alcohol and the median baseline CD4 count was 440 [interquartile range (IQR) 298, 609] cells/μL. Fifty-seven (20%) participants [12.4/100 person-years (PY); 95% confidence interval (CI) 9.2−15.7/100 PY] progressed to an APRI ≥ 1.5 over a mean 1.1 (IQR 0.6, 2.0) years of follow-up time at risk. Virological rebound [hazard ratio (HR) 2.3; 95% CI 1.1, 4.7] but not blips (HR 0.5; 95% CI 0.2, 1.1) predicted progression to APRI ≥ 1.5. Each additional 1 log10 copies/mL HIV RNA exposure (cumulative) was associated with a 20% increase in the risk of fibrosis progression (HR 1.2; 95% CI 1.0–1.3).
Conclusions
Liver fibrosis progression was associated with HIV rebound, but not blips, and with increasing cumulative exposure to HIV RNA, highlighting the importance of achieving and maintaining HIV suppression in the setting of HIV/HCV coinfection.
doi:10.1111/hiv.12168
PMCID: PMC4312483  PMID: 24837567
fibrosis; hepatitis C virus; HIV; virological blips; virological rebound
7.  Impact of hepatitis C virus co-infection on HIV patients before and after highly active antiretroviral therapy: an immunological and clinical chemistry observation, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
BMC Immunology  2013;14:23.
Background
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an RNA virus which has been known to cause acute and chronic necro-inflammatory disease of the liver. It is the leading cause of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. HIV is known to have a negative impact on the natural disease outcome and immune response of HCV infection, whereas the reverse remains unclear. We evaluated the impact of HCV co-infection on recovery of CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells and liver enzyme levels before and after initiation of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV/HCV co-infected patients.
Methods
A hospital-based, observational, prospective cohort study design was used for this study. Pre-antiretroviral treatment (Pre-ART) and under HAART HIV mono-infected and HCV/HIV co-infected individuals who are under regular follow-up were recruited for this study. 387 blood samples were collected from volunteer, known HIV positive Ethiopian patients and screened for HCV. Twenty five HCV/HIV co-infected patients were prospectively followed for four years. CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells and liver enzyme levels were determined annually for each of the participant.
Results
The prevalence of HCV/HIV co-infection in this study was 6.5%. Both HCV/HIV co-infected and HIV mono-infected under HAART groups showed CD4+ recovery (343 Vs 426; P < 0.004, OR = 4.97, 95% CI = 2.41 to 10.27) respectively; but, the recovery rate was higher in mono-infected (80 Vs 426) than co-infected group (148 Vs 343). The recovery and/or decline pattern of CD8+ T-cells was the same with that of CD4+. In 75% of co-infected groups, the mean alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels were above the upper limit of normal reference range. Analyses restricted to individuals who initiated HAART and pre-ART showed similar results.
Conclusion
We found that CD4+ T-cell recovery was negatively affected by the presence of ongoing HCV replication in under HAART co-infected individuals and fast decline of CD4+ T-cells in pre-ART patients. It was also associated with increased ALT and AST enzyme levels in both HAART initiated and treatment naïve co-infected patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2172-14-23
PMCID: PMC3663769  PMID: 23679118
Immunological; HCV/HIV co-infection; Pre-ART; HAART; CD4+; CD8+; GOT; GPT; Alkaline phosphatase
8.  Impact of lifetime alcohol use on liver fibrosis in a population of HIV-infected patients with and without hepatitis C coinfection 
Background
The effect of alcohol on liver disease in HIV infection has not been well characterized.
Methods
We performed a cross-sectional multivariable analysis of the association between lifetime alcohol use and liver fibrosis in a longitudinal cohort of HIV-infected patients with alcohol problems. Liver fibrosis was estimated with two non-invasive indices, “FIB-4”, which includes platelets, liver enzymes, and age; and “APRI”, which includes platelets and liver enzymes. FIB-4<1.45 and APRI<0.5 defined absence of liver fibrosis. FIB-4>3.25 and APRI>1.5 defined advanced liver fibrosis. The main independent variable was lifetime alcohol consumption (<150 kg, 150–600kg, >600 kg).
Results
Subjects (n=308) were 73% male, mean age 43 years, 49% with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, 60% on antiretroviral therapy, 49% with an HIV RNA load<1000 copies/mL, and 18.7% with a CD4 count<200 cells/mm3. Forty-five percent had lifetime alcohol consumption >600 kg, 32.7% 150–600 kg, and 22.3% <150 kg; 33% had current heavy alcohol use, and 69% had >9 years of heavy episodic drinking. Sixty-one percent had absence of liver fibrosis and 10% had advanced liver fibrosis based on FIB-4. In logistic regression analyses controlling for age, gender, HCV infection, and CD4 count, no association was detected between lifetime alcohol consumption and absence of liver fibrosis (FIB-4<1.45) [adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=1.12 (95%CI:0.25–2.52) for 150–600 kg versus <150 kg; AOR=1.11 (95%CI:0.52–2.36) for >600 kg vs. <150 kg; global p=0.95]. Additionally, no association was detected between lifetime alcohol use and advanced liver fibrosis (FIB-4>3.25). Results were similar using APRI, and among those with and without HCV infection.
Conclusions
In this cohort of HIV-infected patients with alcohol problems, we found no significant association between lifetime alcohol consumption and absence of liver fibrosis or the presence of advanced liver fibrosis, suggesting that alcohol may be less important than other known factors that promote liver fibrosis in this population.
doi:10.1111/acer.12129
PMCID: PMC3758457  PMID: 23647488
alcohol; HIV; Hepatitis C virus; liver fibrosis
9.  Prevalence and risk factors for significant liver fibrosis among HIV-monoinfected patients 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2010;10:116.
Background
HIV-monoinfected patients may be at risk for significant liver fibrosis, but its prevalence and determinants in these patients are unknown. Since HIV-monoinfected patients do not routinely undergo liver biopsy, we evaluated the prevalence and risk factors of significant hepatic fibrosis in this group using the aspartate aminotransferase (AST)-to-platelet ratio index (APRI).
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional study among HIV-infected patients negative for hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis C antibody in the Penn Center for AIDS Research Adult/Adolescent Database. Clinical and laboratory data were collected from the database at enrollment. Hypothesized determinants of significant fibrosis were modifiable risk factors associated with liver disease progression, hepatic fibrosis, or hepatotoxicity, including immune dysfunction (i.e., CD4 T lymphocyte count <200 cells/mm3, HIV viremia), diseases associated with hepatic steatosis (e.g., obesity, diabetes mellitus), and use of antiretroviral therapy. The primary outcome was an APRI score >1.5, which suggests significant hepatic fibrosis. Multivariable logistic regression identified independent risk factors for significant fibrosis by APRI.
Results
Among 432 HIV-monoinfected patients enrolled in the CFAR Database between November 1999 and May 2008, significant fibrosis by APRI was identified in 36 (8.3%; 95% CI, 5.9 - 11.4%) patients. After controlling for all other hypothesized risk factors as well as active alcohol use and site, detectable HIV viremia (adjusted OR, 2.56; 95% CI, 1.02 - 8.87) and diabetes mellitus (adjusted OR, 3.15; 95% CI, 1.12 - 10.10) remained associated with significant fibrosis by APRI.
Conclusions
Significant fibrosis by APRI score was found in 8% of HIV-monoinfected patients. Detectable HIV viremia and diabetes mellitus were associated with significant fibrosis. Future studies should explore mechanisms for fibrosis in HIV-monoinfected patients.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-116
PMCID: PMC2876168  PMID: 20465840
10.  The Effect of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy on the Survival of HIV-Infected Children in a Resource-Deprived Setting: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1001044.
This observational cohort study by Andrew Edmonds and colleagues reports that treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) markedly improves the survival of HIV-infected children in Kinshasa, DRC, a resource-deprived setting.
Background
The effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on the survival of HIV-infected children has not been well quantified. Because most pediatric HIV occurs in low- and middle-income countries, our objective was to provide a first estimate of this effect among children living in a resource-deprived setting.
Methods and Findings
Observational data from HAART-naïve children enrolled into an HIV care and treatment program in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, between December 2004 and May 2010 were analyzed. We used marginal structural models to estimate the effect of HAART on survival while accounting for time-dependent confounders affected by exposure. At the start of follow-up, the median age of the 790 children was 5.9 y, 528 (66.8%) had advanced or severe immunodeficiency, and 405 (51.3%) were in HIV clinical stage 3 or 4. The children were observed for a median of 31.2 mo and contributed a total of 2,089.8 person-years. Eighty children (10.1%) died, 619 (78.4%) initiated HAART, six (0.8%) transferred to a different care provider, and 76 (9.6%) were lost to follow-up. The mortality rate was 3.2 deaths per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.4–4.2) during receipt of HAART and 6.0 deaths per 100 person-years (95% CI 4.1–8.6) during receipt of primary HIV care only. The mortality hazard ratio comparing HAART with no HAART from a marginal structural model was 0.25 (95% CI 0.06–0.95).
Conclusions
HAART reduced the hazard of mortality in HIV-infected children in Kinshasa by 75%, an estimate that is similar in magnitude but with lower precision than the reported effect of HAART on survival among children in the United States.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2009, an estimated 2.5 million children were living with HIV, the majority of whom (2.3 million) were in sub-Saharan Africa. Most (90%) of these children acquired HIV from their HIV-infected mothers during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding, highlighting the importance of giving effective drugs for the prevention of mother to child transmission. As such interventions are still not widely accessible or available in most resource-limited countries, where the burden of HIV is highest, every day an estimated 1,000 children were newly infected with HIV in 2009, but only 360,000 children were receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Although HAART improves the survival of adults living with HIV, less is known about the degree to which HAART affects the survival of HIV-infected children—although response to antiretroviral treatment is known to differ across age groups. Furthermore, as the course of HIV disease in children is different from that in adults (partly because of the impact of the virus on the immature thymus, which can lead to high HIV RNA viremia and rapid death), it is inappropriate to extrapolate results from studies of adults to pediatric populations. Therefore, it is imperative that the effect of HAART on survival be quantified specifically in children.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most observational studies of the effects of treatment on child survival have been undertaken in high-income countries, such as Italy and the United States. As most children with HIV live in low-resource areas, where multiple factors, such as delayed presentation to care and a higher incidence of co-occurring conditions, might adversely affect treatment outcomes, there is a specific need for information on the effects of HAART in children with HIV living in low-income countries. Although some investigations have taken place in pediatric cohorts from such countries (for example, Côte d'Ivoire, Haiti, Lesotho, Thailand, and Zambia), the effect of HAART on mortality has not been accurately quantified among children in a resource-deprived setting. Therefore, in this observational clinical cohort study, the researchers investigated the effect of HAART on mortality in HIV-infected children in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed data from 790 children enrolled into an HIV program in Kinshasa, DRC, between December 2004 and May 2010 and used a statistical model (marginal structural models) to adjust for time-dependent confounding factors, such as the fact that HAART is typically initiated in sicker patients, for example, those with lower CD4 cell percentages. Assuming that all children starting HAART received it uninterruptedly throughout follow-up, using this statistical model, the researchers were able to compare the hazard ratio of death had all children initiated HAART to that had no children initiated HAART during follow-up.
In the study, 619 out of the 790 children (78.4%) initiated HAART during follow-up and were followed for a median of 31.2 months, with a median of 30 HIV care visits. Of those who started treatment, 110 (17.8%) switched to an alternative regimen because of an adverse event or treatment failure. During the 2,089.8 accrued person-years of follow-up, 80 children (10.1%) died, giving an overall mortality rate of 3.8 deaths per 100 person-years. The unadjusted mortality rate ratio comparing HAART to no HAART was 0.54. Using a marginal structural model, the researchers estimated that compared to no HAART, HAART reduced the hazard (rate) of mortality during follow-up by 75%.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that treatment with HAART markedly improved the survival of children infected with HIV in Kinshasa, DRC, and suggest that HAART is as effective in improving the survival of HIV-infected children in a severely resource-deprived country (still recovering from civil war) as in more resource-privileged settings—an important finding given that the vast majority of children receiving HAART live in resource-poor areas. This study provides additional evidence that accelerating rollout of antiretroviral therapy to children with HIV in resource-poor countries is lifesaving and effective. Future research needs to address how effective HAART is in understudied populations in resource-poor countries, such as undernourished children or those with co-infections such as tuberculosis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001044.
The World Health Organization's Web site has more information about the treatment of children living with HIV
Médecins Sans Frontières's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines Web site has more information on pediatric HAART
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001044
PMCID: PMC3114869  PMID: 21695087
11.  Progression of liver fibrosis in HIV/HCV genotype 1 co-infected patients is related to the T allele of the rsI2979860 polymorphism of the IL28B gene 
Objective
HIV/HCV co-infection is characterised by accelerated progression of liver disease. Recently, the rsl2979860 C/T polymorphism in the IL28B gene has been linked to progression towards cirrhosis in HCV mono-infected patients and to treatment response of HCV-infection in HIV/HCV co-infected patients. Our aim was to clarify by non-invasive techniques if this polymorphism affects fibrosis progression in HIV/HCV co-infection.
Methods
In a cross-sectional design, liver stiffness (transient elastography), surrogate markers of liver fibrosis (APRI and FIB-4 scores) and rsl2979860 genotypes were analysed in 84 HCV/H1V co-infected patients. IL28B genotypes were determined by real-time PCR using a light cycler. In 56 HIV/HCV co-infected patients we also studied progression of fibrosis in relation to rsl2979860 C/T genotypes over two years.
Results
82% of the patients were on HAART (74% without detectable HI viremia) and 67% were haemophiliacs, respectively. HCV genotype 1 was present in 62%. Cross-sectional median liver stiffness was 7.4 kPa and correlated with APRI and FIB-4 scores (r = 0.6 each, p < 0.001). Frequencies of IL28B genotypes were: CC 50%, CT 43% and TT 7%. In the cross-sectional analysis liver stiffness values were not different between the various IL28B-genotypes. Upon follow-up under HAART carriers of a C allele did not show further progression, while liver stiffness significantly increased in HIV/HCV co-infected patients with the T allele (p = 0.047).
Conclusion
Although progression of liver fibrosis was low under HAART in our cohort, progression was more pronounced in HIV/HCV genotype 1 co-infected patients with the T allele.
doi:10.1186/2047-783X-16-8-335
PMCID: PMC3351985  PMID: 21813376
IL28B; polymorphism; liver fibrosis; transient elastography; HIV; HCV
12.  Epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection & liver disease among injection drug users (IDUs) in Chennai, India 
Background & Objectives:
We characterized HCV antibody prevalence, viral persistence, genotype and liver disease prevalence among IDUs in Chennai, India as the study of the association of HIV with each of these states is important and there are no data available.
Methods:
Between 2005-2006, 1158 IDUs were recruited and followed semi-annually. All were tested for HCV antibodies at baseline; a random sample of 400 antibody positives (200 HIV-positive and 200 HIV-negative) were tested for HCV RNA; 13 of these were sequenced. Assessment of asparate amino transferase (AST)-to-platelet ratio index (APRI) was done on 557 IDUs. Prevalence ratios of each outcome were examined.
Results:
Median age was 35 yr; 99 per cent were male. HCV antibody prevalence was 55 per cent and was associated with older age, being unmarried, longer injection history, tattoo and injecting at a dealer’s place. Of the 400 HCV antibody positive IDUs, 281 (70.3%) had persistent infection which was less common among hepatitis B-infected persons but not associated with HIV. Of the 13 samples sequenced, 11 (85%) were HCV genotype 3a. Fibrosis prevalence according to APRI was: HIV/HCV-uninfected, 4 per cent; HIV mono-infected, 3 per cent; HCV mono-infected, 11 per cent; HIV/HCV co-infected, 12 per cent (P<0.001). In addition to being associated with HCV and HIV/HCV, fibrosis prevalence was higher among those drinking alcohol frequently; daily marijuana use was protective.
Interpretation & Conclusions:
Our findings show that IDUs in Chennai have high HCV prevalence and associated disease burden. The burden will increase as access to antiretroviral therapy improves particularly given the high prevalence of HIV, HCV and alcohol use.
PMCID: PMC3102459  PMID: 21245619
APRI; HCV genotype; hepatitis C virus; HIV; injection drug users; liver disease
13.  Hepatitis C Viremia Is Associated with Cytomegalovirus IgG Antibody Levels in HIV-Infected Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61973.
Background
Individuals with HIV infection exhibit high cytomegalovirus (CMV) IgG levels, but there are few data regarding the association of hepatitis C virus (HCV) with the immune response against CMV.
Methods
Associations of HCV with CMV seropositivity and CMV IgG levels were studied in 635 HIV-infected women, 187 of whom were HCV-seropositive, with adjustment in multivariable models for age, race/ethnicity, and HIV disease characteristics. Eighty one percent of the women reported receipt of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) prior to or at CMV testing.
Results
In adjusted models women with chronic HCV had higher CMV IgG levels than those without HCV RNA (β = 2.86, 95% CI:0.89 – 4.83; P = 0.004). The association of HCV RNA with CMV IgG differed by age (Pinteraction = 0.0007), with a strong association observed among women in the low and middle age tertiles (≤45.3 years of age; β = 6.21, 95% CI:3.30 – 9.11, P<0.0001) but not among women in the high age tertile. CMV IgG levels were not associated with non-invasive measures of liver disease, APRI and FIB-4, or with HCV RNA level and adjustment for Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) IgG levels did not affect the association between HCV and CMV.
Conclusions
CMV IgG levels are higher in HCV/HIV co-infected women than in HIV mono-infected women. Further research on the association of HCV with CMV IgG is indicated because prior studies have found CMV IgG to be associated with morbidity and mortality in the general population and subclinical carotid artery disease in HIV-infected patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061973
PMCID: PMC3629158  PMID: 23613990
14.  Antiretroviral Treatment and Prevention of Peripartum and Postnatal HIV Transmission in West Africa: Evaluation of a Two-Tiered Approach 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(8):e257.
Background
Highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) has only been recently recommended for HIV-infected pregnant women requiring treatment for their own health in resource-limited settings. However, there are few documented experiences from African countries. We evaluated the short-term (4 wk) and long-term (12 mo) effectiveness of a two-tiered strategy of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) in Africa: women meeting the eligibility criteria of the World Health Organization (WHO) received HAART, and women with less advanced HIV disease received short-course antiretroviral (scARV) PMTCT regimens.
Methods and Findings
The MTCT-Plus Initiative is a multi-country, family-centred HIV care and treatment program for pregnant and postpartum women and their families. Pregnant women enrolled in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire received either HAART for their own health or short-course antiretroviral (scARV) PMTCT regimens according to their clinical and immunological status. Plasma HIV-RNA viral load (VL) was measured to diagnose peripartum infection when infants were 4 wk of age, and HIV final status was documented either by rapid antibody testing when infants were aged ≥ 12 mo or by plasma VL earlier. The Kaplan-Meier method was used to estimate the rate of HIV transmission and HIV-free survival. Between August 2003 and June 2005, 107 women began HAART at a median of 30 wk of gestation, 102 of them with zidovudine (ZDV), lamivudine (3TC), and nevirapine (NVP) and they continued treatment postpartum; 143 other women received scARV for PMTCT, 103 of them with sc(ZDV+3TC) with single-dose NVP during labour. Most (75%) of the infants were breast-fed for a median of 5 mo. Overall, the rate of peripartum HIV transmission was 2.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.3%–4.2%) and the cumulative rate at 12 mo was 5.7% (95% CI 2.5%–9.0%). The overall probability of infant death or infection with HIV was 4.3% (95% CI 1.7%–7.0%) at age week 4 wk and 11.7% (95% CI 7.5%–15.9%) at 12 mo.
Conclusions
This two-tiered strategy appears to be safe and highly effective for short- and long-term PMTCT in resource-constrained settings. These results indicate a further benefit of access to HAART for pregnant women who need treatment for their own health.
In an observational cohort study from Côte d'Ivoire, François Dabis and colleagues report on prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission among women receiving antiretroviral therapy according to World Health Organization recommendations.
Editors' Summary
Background
Effective treatments are available to prevent AIDS in people who are infected with HIV, but not everyone with HIV needs to take medication. Usually, anti-HIV medication is recommended only for those whose immune systems have been significantly affected by the virus, as evidenced by symptoms or by the results of a blood test, the CD4 lymphocyte (“T cell”) count. Treating HIV usually requires a combination of three or more medications. These combinations (called HAART) must be taken every day, can cause complications, and can be expensive.
Worldwide, more than half a million children became infected with HIV each year. Most of these children acquire HIV from their mothers during pregnancy or around the time of birth. If a pregnant woman with HIV takes HAART, her chances of passing HIV to the baby are greatly reduced, but the possible side effects of HAART on the baby are not known. Also, most transmission of HIV from mothers to babies occurs in poor countries where supplies of HAART are limited. For these reasons, World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend that every pregnant woman receive HAART to prevent HIV transmission to the baby, unless the woman needs HAART for her own health (for example if her T cells are low or she has severe symptoms of HIV infection). For pregnant women with HIV who do not need to take HAART for their own health, less complicated treatments, involving a short course of one or two HIV drugs, can be used to reduce the risk of passing HIV to the baby.
Why Was This Study Done?
The WHO recommendations for HAART in pregnancy are based on the best available evidence, but it is important to know how well they work in actual practice. The authors of this study were providing HIV treatment to pregnant women with HIV in West Africa through an established clinic program in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, and wanted to see how well the WHO recommendations for HAART or short-course treatments, depending on the mother's condition, were working to protect babies from HIV infection.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers studied 250 HIV-infected pregnant women who received HIV medications in the Abidjan program between mid-2003 and mid-2005. In accordance with WHO guidelines, 107 women began HAART for their own health during pregnancy, and 143 women did not qualify for HAART but received other short course treatments (scARV) to prevent HIV transmission to their babies. The authors monitored mothers and babies for treatment side effects and tested the babies for HIV infection up to age 1 y.
They found that HAART was relatively safe during pregnancy, although babies born to women on HAART were more likely (26.3%) to have low birth weight than babies born to women who received scARV (12.4%). Also, 7.5% of women on HAART developed side effects requiring a change in their medications. Combining the results from HAART and scART groups, the chance of HIV transmission around the time of birth was 2.2%, increasing to 5.7% at age 1 y. (Three-quarters of the infants were breast-fed; safe water for mixing formula was not reliably available.) The study found no difference in risk of HIV infection between babies whose mothers received HAART and those whose mothers received scARV according to guidelines.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results support the safety and effectiveness of the WHO two-tiered approach for preventing mother-to-child transmission. This study was not designed to compare HAART to scART directly, because the women who received HAART were the ones with more advanced HIV infection, which might have affected their babies in many ways.
Compared to earlier pregnancy studies of HAART in rich countries, this study of the WHO approach in West Africa showed similar success in protecting infants from HIV infection around the time of birth. Unfortunately, because formula feeding was not generally available in resource-limited settings, protection declined over the first year of life with breast-feeding, but some protection remained.
This study confirms that close monitoring of pregnant women on HAART is necessary, so that drugs can be changed if side effects develop. The study does not tell us whether using scARV in pregnancy might change the virus in ways that would make it more difficult to treat the same women with HAART later if they needed it. The reason for low birth weight in some babies born to mothers on HAART is unclear. It may be because the women who needed HAART had more severe health problems from their HIV, or it may be a result of the HAART itself.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040257.
World Health Organization has a page on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV
“Women, Children, and HIV” is a resource site from the François Xavier Bagnoud Center and UCSF
The MTCT-Plus initiative at Columbia University supports the programs in Abidjan
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040257
PMCID: PMC1949842  PMID: 17713983
15.  The Relation of HLA Genotype to Hepatitis C Viral Load and Markers of Liver Fibrosis in HIV-Infected and HIV-Uninfected Women 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;203(12):1807-1814.
Background. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I and II genotype is associated with clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but little is known regarding its relation with HCV viral load or risk of liver disease in patients with persistent HCV infection.
Methods. High-resolution HLA class I and II genotyping was conducted in a prospective cohort of 519 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–seropositive and 100 HIV-seronegative women with persistent HCV infection. The end points were baseline HCV viral load and 2 noninvasive indexes of liver disease, fibrosis-4 (FIB-4), and the aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI), measured at baseline and prospectively.
Results. DQB1*0301 was associated with low baseline HCV load (β = −.4; 95% confidence interval [CI], −.6 to −.3; P < .00001), as well as with low odds of FIB-4–defined (odds ratio [OR], .5; 95% CI, .2–.9; P = .02) and APRI-defined liver fibrosis (OR, .5; 95% CI, .3–1.0; P = .06) at baseline and/or during follow-up. Most additional associations with HCV viral load also involved HLA class II alleles. Additional associations with FIB-4 and APRI primarily involved class I alleles, for example, the relation of B*1503 with APRI-defined fibrosis had an OR of 2.0 (95% CI, 1.0–3.7; P = .04).
Conclusions. HLA genotype may influence HCV viral load and risk of liver disease, including DQB1*0301, which was associated with HCV clearance in prior studies.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir192
PMCID: PMC3100515  PMID: 21606539
16.  Dynamic analysis of Th1/Th2 cytokine concentration during antiretroviral therapy of HIV-1/HCV co-infected Patients 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:102.
Background
Co-infection with hepatitis C (HCV) is very common in human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) infected patients. Although HIV co-infection clearly accelerates progression of HCV-related fibrosis and liver disease, controversy remains as to the impact of HCV on HIV disease progression in co-infected patients. HIV can cause immune dysfunction, in which the regulatory function of T helper (Th) cells is very essential. Moreover, cytokines derived from Th cells play a prominent role in viral infection. Investigating the functional changes of Th1 and Th2 cells in cytokine level can improve the understanding of the effect of co-infected HCV on HIV infection.
Methods
In this study, we measured the baseline Th1/Th2 cytokine concentration in sera by using flow cytometry in HIV/HCV co-infection, HIV mono-infection, HCV mono-infection, and healthy control group, as well as the dynamic changes of these cytokine levels after receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).
Results
The ratio of Th1 and Th2 cytokine concentration in HIV/HCV co-infection was higher than HCV mono-infection and healthy control group, while lower than HIV mono-infection group. After HAART was initiated, the Th1/Th2 ratio of HIV/HCV co-infection group decreased to the same level of healthy control, while HIV mono-infection group was still higher than the control group.
Conclusions
There was no significant evidence showing co-infected with HCV had negative effect on HIV related diseases. However, co-infected with HCV can decrease Th1/Th2 ratio by affecting Th1 cytokine level, especially the secretion of IFN-γ. With the initiation of HAART, Th1 and Th2 cytokine levels were progressively reduced. HIV was the main stimulating factor of T cells in HIV/HCV co-infection group.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-12-102
PMCID: PMC3353863  PMID: 22533731
17.  Transient elastography discloses identical distribution of liver fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C between HIV-negative and HIV-positive patients on HAART 
Objective
Progressive immunodeficiency associated with HIV-infection leads to a progressive course of liver disease in HIV/HCV-co-infected patients. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) efficiently restores and preserves immune functions and has recently been demonstrated to also result in reduced liver-related mortality in HIV/HCV-co-infected patients.
Methods
To analyse differences in current liver fibrosis as a possible effect of HAART on fibrosis progression we assessed hepatic fibrosis by transient elastography in a cross-sectional comparison between HCV-mono-infected and HIV/HCV-co-infected patients presenting at our outpatient department in 2007.
Results
Overall, we did not find any difference in the distribution of liver stiffness between mono- (n = 84) and double-infected (n = 57) patients (14.4 kPa (10.8 - 18.2) versus 12.4 kPa (9.1 - 16.1), mean (95%-CI)). However, in the 8 HIV+ patients with CD4 counts < 200/μl liver stiffness was markedly greater (18.4 kPa (0.8 - 36.0)) than in HIV+ patients with preserved immunity (11.5 kPa (8.4 - 15.0)).
Conclusions
These findings are in line with other data that show an improved prognosis of chronic hepatitis C in HIV+ patients under effective HAART, and may be a hint that fibrosis progression in well-treated HIV+ patients will no longer be different from that in HCV-mono-infected patients.
doi:10.1186/2047-783X-15-4-139
PMCID: PMC3400998  PMID: 20554494
Liver fibrosis; HIV; HCV; transelastography
18.  Use of the AST to platelet ratio index in HCV/HIV co-infected patients 
SUMMARY
Background
The AST to platelet ratio index (APRI), a non-invasive marker of liver fibrosis, has not been well studied in HCV/HIV (hepatitis C virus/human immunodeficiency virus) co-infected patients with advanced HIV.
Aim
To compare the accuracy of APRI in HCV/HIV co-infected patients to that in HCV mono-infected patients and to determine the impact of CD4+ T-cell counts on its performance.
Methods
We identified 106 consecutive HCV/HIV co-infected patients and 105 matched HCV mono-infected patients who underwent liver biopsy at Harborview Medical Center over a 5-year period. Performance characteristics were calculated and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis conducted.
Results
The area under the ROC curve (AUROC) of APRI for predicting significant fibrosis was similar when comparing those with and without HIV co-infection (0.77 vs. 0.86, P = 0.18), but was lower in HIV co-infected patients with CD4 counts <250 cells/mm3 (0.64 vs. 0.86, P = 0.05). In HIV co-infected patients with CD4 counts ≥250, APRI had higher negative predictive value (93% vs. 88%, P = 0.57), positive predictive value (63% vs. 40%, P = 0.43) and specificity (95% vs. 88%, P = 0.05) than in those with lower CD4 counts.
Conclusions
The AST to platelet ratio index (APRI) performance characteristics appear to be suboptimal in HCV/HIV co-infected patients with CD4 counts <250 and they require further study in this population at increased risk for advanced liver disease.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04560.x
PMCID: PMC3552516  PMID: 21205257
19.  Emergence of Drug Resistance Is Associated with an Increased Risk of Death among Patients First Starting HAART 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(9):e356.
Background
The impact of the emergence of drug-resistance mutations on mortality is not well characterized in antiretroviral-naïve patients first starting highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Patients may be able to sustain immunologic function with resistant virus, and there is limited evidence that reduced sensitivity to antiretrovirals leads to rapid disease progression or death. We undertook the present analysis to characterize the determinants of mortality in a prospective cohort study with a median of nearly 5 y of follow-up. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of the emergence of drug-resistance mutations on survival among persons initiating HAART.
Methods and Findings
Participants were antiretroviral therapy naïve at entry and initiated triple combination antiretroviral therapy between August 1, 1996, and September 30, 1999. Marginal structural modeling was used to address potential confounding between time-dependent variables in the Cox proportional hazard regression models. In this analysis resistance to any class of drug was considered as a binary time-dependent exposure to the risk of death, controlling for the effect of other time-dependent confounders. We also considered each separate class of mutation as a binary time-dependent exposure, while controlling for the presence/absence of other mutations. A total of 207 deaths were identified among 1,138 participants over the follow-up period, with an all cause mortality rate of 18.2%. Among the 679 patients with HIV-drug-resistance genotyping done before initiating HAART, HIV-drug resistance to any class was observed in 53 (7.8%) of the patients. During follow-up, HIV-drug resistance to any class was observed in 302 (26.5%) participants. Emergence of any resistance was associated with mortality (hazard ratio: 1.75 [95% confidence interval: 1.27, 2.43]). When we considered each class of resistance separately, persons who exhibited resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors had the highest risk: mortality rates were 3.02 times higher (95% confidence interval: 1.99, 4.57) for these patients than for those who did not exhibit this type of resistance.
Conclusions
We demonstrated that emergence of resistance to non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors was associated with a greater risk of subsequent death than was emergence of protease inhibitor resistance. Future research is needed to identify the particular subpopulations of men and women at greatest risk and to elucidate the impact of resistance over a longer follow-up period.
Emergence of resistance to both non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors was associated with a higher risk of subsequent death, but the risk was greater in patients with NNRTI-resistant HIV.
Editors' Summary
Background.
In the 1980s, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was effectively a death sentence. HIV causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) by replicating inside immune system cells and destroying them, which leaves infected individuals unable to fight off other viruses and bacteria. The first antiretroviral drugs were developed quickly, but it soon became clear that single antiretrovirals only transiently suppress HIV infection. HIV mutates (accumulates random changes to its genetic material) very rapidly and, although most of these changes (or mutations) are bad for the virus, by chance some make it drug resistant. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), which was introduced in the mid-1990s, combines three or four antiretroviral drugs that act at different stages of the viral life cycle. For example, they inhibit the reverse transcriptase that the virus uses to replicate its genetic material, or the protease that is necessary to assemble new viruses. With HAART, the replication of any virus that develops resistance to one drug is inhibited by the other drugs in the mix. As a consequence, for many individuals with access to HAART, AIDS has become a chronic rather than a fatal disease. However, being on HAART requires patients to take several pills a day at specific times. In addition, the drugs in the HAART regimens often have side effects.
Why Was This Study Done?
Drug resistance still develops even with HAART, often because patients don't stick to the complicated regimens. The detection of resistance to one drug is usually the prompt to change a patient's drug regimen to head off possible treatment failure. Although most patients treated with HAART live for many years, some still die from AIDS. We don't know much about how the emergence of drug-resistance mutations affects mortality in patients who are starting antiretroviral therapy for the first time. In this study, the researchers looked at how the emergence of drug resistance affected survival in a group of HIV/AIDS patients in British Columbia, Canada. Here, everyone with HIV/AIDS has access to free medical attention, HAART, and laboratory monitoring, and full details of all HAART recipients are entered into a central reporting system.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled people who started antiretroviral therapy for the first time between August 1996 and September 1999 into the HAART Observational Medical Evaluation and Research (HOMER) cohort. They then excluded anyone who was infected with already drug-resistant HIV strains (based on the presence of drug-resistance mutations in viruses isolated from the patients) at the start of therapy. The remaining 1,138 patients were followed for an average of five years. All the patients received either two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a protease inhibitor, or two nucleoside and one non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI). Nearly a fifth of the study participants died during the follow-up period. Most of these patients actually had drug-sensitive viruses, possibly because they had neglected taking their drugs to such an extent that there had been insufficient drug exposure to select for drug-resistant viruses. In a quarter of the patients, however, HIV strains resistant to one or more antiretroviral drugs emerged during the study (again judged by looking for mutations). Detailed statistical analyses indicated that the emergence of any drug resistance nearly doubled the risk of patients dying, and that people carrying viruses resistant to NNRTIs were three times as likely to die as those without resistance to this class of antiretroviral drug.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results provide new information about the emergence of drug-resistant HIV during HAART and possible effects on the long-term survival of patients. In particular, they suggest that clinicians should watch carefully for the emergence of resistance to NNRTIs in their patients. Because this type of resistance is often due to poor adherence to drug regimens, these results also suggest that increased efforts should be made to ensure that patients comply with the prescribed HAART regimens, especially those whose antiretroviral therapy includes NNRTIs. As with all studies in which a group of individuals who share a common characteristic are studied over time, it is possible that some other, unmeasured difference between the patients who died and those who didn't—rather than emerging drug resistance—is responsible for the observed differences in survival. Additional studies are needed to confirm the findings here, and to investigate whether specific subpopulations of patients are at particular risk of developing drug resistance and/or dying during HAART.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030356.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases fact sheet on HIV infection and AIDS
US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS, including details of approved drugs for the treatment of HIV infection
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
Aidsmap, information on HIV and AIDS provided by the charity NAM, which includes details on antiretroviral drugs
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030356
PMCID: PMC1569883  PMID: 16984218
20.  Rates and impact of hepatitis on human immunodeficiency virus infection in a large African cohort 
AIM: To determine the rates and impact of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections on response to long-term highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in a large human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) population in Nigeria.
METHODS: HBV and HCV as well as HIV infections are endemic in sub Saharan Africa. This was a retrospective cohort study of 19 408 adults who were recruited between June 2004 and December 2010 in the AIDS Prevention Initiative in Nigeria in Nigeria programme at Jos University Teaching Hospital. Serological assays, including HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) and hepatitis C antibody were used to categorise hepatitis status of the patients. HBsAg was determined using enzyme immunoassay (EIA) (Monolisa HBsAg Ultra3; Bio-Rad). HCV antibody was tested using third generation EIA (DIA.PRO Diagnostic, Bioprobes srl, Milan, Italy). HIV RNA levels were measured using Roche COBAS Amplicor HIV-1 monitor test version 1.5 (Roche Diagnostics, GmbH, Mannheim, Germany) with a detection limit of 400 copies/mL. Flow cytometry was used to determine CD4+ cell count (Partec, GmbH Munster, Germany). Comparison of categorical and continuous variables were achieved using Pearson’s χ2 and Kruskal Wallis tests respectively, on MedCalc for Windows, version 9.5.0.0 (MedCalc Software, Mariakerke, Belgium).
RESULTS: With an overall hepatitis screening rate of over 90% for each virus; HBV, HCV and HBV/HCV were detected in 3162 (17.8%), 1983 (11.3%) and 453 (2.5%) HIV infected adults respectively. The rate of liver disease was low, but highest among HIV mono-infected patients (29, 0.11%), followed by HBV co-infected patients (15, 0.08%). Patients with HBV co-infection and triple infection had higher log10 HIV RNA loads (HBV: 4.6 copies/mL vs HIV only: 4.5 copies/mL, P < 0.0001) and more severe immune suppression (HBV: 645, 55.4%; HBV/HCV: 97, 56.7%) prior to initiation of HAART compared to HIV mono-infected patients (1852, 48.6%) (P < 0.0001). Of 3025 patients who were 4.4 years on HAART and whose CD4 cell counts results at baseline and end of follow up were available for analyses, CD4 increase was significantly lower in those with HBV co-infection (HBV: 144 cells/mm3; HBV/HCV: 105 cells/mm3) than in those with HCV co-infection (165 cells/mm3) and HIV mono-infection (150 cells/mm3) (P = 0.0008).
CONCLUSION: High rates of HBV and HCV infections were found in this HIV cohort. CD4 recovery was significantly diminished in patients with HBV co-infection.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v19.i10.1602
PMCID: PMC3602477  PMID: 23538773
Human immunodeficiency virus; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis C; Africa; Liver disease
21.  Evolution of Antiretroviral Drug Costs in Brazil in the Context of Free and Universal Access to AIDS Treatment  
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(11):e305.
Background
Little is known about the long-term drug costs associated with treating AIDS in developing countries. Brazil's AIDS treatment program has been cited widely as the developing world's largest and most successful AIDS treatment program. The program guarantees free access to highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for all people living with HIV/AIDS in need of treatment. Brazil produces non-patented generic antiretroviral drugs (ARVs), procures many patented ARVs with negotiated price reductions, and recently issued a compulsory license to import one patented ARV. In this study, we investigate the drivers of recent ARV cost trends in Brazil through analysis of drug-specific prices and expenditures between 2001 and 2005.
Methods and Findings
We compared Brazil's ARV prices to those in other low- and middle-income countries. We analyzed trends in drug expenditures for HAART in Brazil from 2001 to 2005 on the basis of cost data disaggregated by each ARV purchased by the Brazilian program. We decomposed the overall changes in expenditures to compare the relative impacts of changes in drug prices and drug purchase quantities. We also estimated the excess costs attributable to the difference between prices for generics in Brazil and the lowest global prices for these drugs. Finally, we estimated the savings attributable to Brazil's reduced prices for patented drugs. Negotiated drug prices in Brazil are lowest for patented ARVs for which generic competition is emerging. In recent years, the prices for efavirenz and lopinavir–ritonavir (lopinavir/r) have been lower in Brazil than in other middle-income countries. In contrast, the price of tenofovir is US$200 higher per patient per year than that reported in other middle-income countries. Despite precipitous price declines for four patented ARVs, total Brazilian drug expenditures doubled, to reach US$414 million in 2005. We find that the major driver of cost increases was increased purchase quantities of six specific drugs: patented lopinavir/r, efavirenz, tenofovir, atazanavir, enfuvirtide, and a locally produced generic, fixed-dose combination of zidovudine and lamivudine (AZT/3TC). Because prices declined for many of the patented drugs that constitute the largest share of drug costs, nearly the entire increase in overall drug expenditures between 2001 and 2005 is attributable to increases in drug quantities. Had all drug quantities been held constant from 2001 until 2005 (or for those drugs entering treatment guidelines after 2001, held constant between the year of introduction and 2005), total costs would have increased by only an estimated US$7 million. We estimate that in the absence of price declines for patented drugs, Brazil would have spent a cumulative total of US$2 billion on drugs for HAART between 2001 and 2005, implying a savings of US$1.2 billion from price declines. Finally, in comparing Brazilian prices for locally produced generic ARVs to the lowest international prices meeting global pharmaceutical quality standards, we find that current prices for Brazil's locally produced generics are generally much higher than corresponding global prices, and note that these prices have risen in Brazil while declining globally. We estimate the excess costs of Brazil's locally produced generics totaled US$110 million from 2001 to 2005.
Conclusions
Despite Brazil's more costly generic ARVs, the net result of ARV price changes has been a cost savings of approximately US$1 billion since 2001. HAART costs have nevertheless risen steeply as Brazil has scaled up treatment. These trends may foreshadow future AIDS treatment cost trends in other developing countries as more people start treatment, AIDS patients live longer and move from first-line to second and third-line treatment, AIDS treatment becomes more complex, generic competition emerges, and newer patented drugs become available. The specific application of the Brazilian model to other countries will depend, however, on the strength of their health systems, intellectual property regulations, epidemiological profiles, AIDS treatment guidelines, and differing capacities to produce drugs locally.
Amy Nunn and colleagues analyze the cost of antiretroviral drugs in Brazil between 2001 and 2005 and discuss the implications for HIV treatment in other developing countries.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has killed 29 million people since the first case occurred in 1981 and an estimated 40 million people live with HIV/AIDS today. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys the immune system. Infected individuals are consequently very susceptible to other infections. Early in the AIDS epidemic, most HIV-positive individuals died within a few years of becoming infected. Then, in 1996, highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)—a cocktail of antiretroviral drugs (ARVs)—was developed. For people who could afford HAART (which holds HIV infections in check), AIDS became a chronic disease. People who start HAART must keep taking it or their illness will progress.
Unfortunately, few people in low- and middle-income countries could afford these expensive drugs. In 2001, ARV prices fell in developing countries as AIDS activists and developing country governments challenged pharmaceutical companies about ARV prices, pharmaceutical companies set tiered prices for the low- and middle-income countries and more generic (inexpensive copies of brand-named drugs) ARVs became available. In 2003, the lack of access to HIV/AIDS treatment was declared a global health emergency. Governments, international organizations, and funding bodies began to set targets and provide funds to increase access to HAART in developing countries. By 2007, over 2 million people in low- and middle-income countries had access to HAART, but another 5 million remain in urgent need of drugs for treatment.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 1995, many countries in the world signed the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement, which requires countries to acknowledge intellectual property rights for many products, including pharmaceuticals. In 1996, Brazil became the first developing country to commit to and implement policies to provide free and universal access to HAART. Since then, Brazil's successful AIDS treatment program has become a model for the developing world, and 180,000 Brazilians were receiving HAART at the end of 2006. However, as a WTO member that signed on to the TRIPS agreement, Brazil was required to recognize the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies' patented ARVs. As Brazil scaled up treatment in the late 1990s, the cost of treating AIDS patients rose quickly and the country took controversial public policy steps to reduce the cost of providing HAART to people living with HIV/AIDS. Brazil produces several non-patented ARVs locally, and since 2001 has challenged multinational pharmaceutical companies about the prices of patented ARVs. To induce price reductions for patented ARVs, Brazil has threatened to issue compulsory licenses (which under WTO terms allow countries facing a health emergency to produce patented drugs without consent of the company holding the patent). Brazil also recently issued a compulsory license for one ARV.
Although world leaders have set a target of universal access to HAART by 2010, little is known about the long-term costs of AIDS treatment in developing countries. In this study, the researchers have investigated how and why the costs of ARVs changed in Brazil between 2001 and 2005 and discuss the relevance of the Brazilian model for AIDS treatment for other resource-limited settings.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the prices for each ARV recommended in Brazil's therapeutic guidelines for adults and estimated the changes in purchase quantities for each between 2001 and 2005. These changes likely stem from the growing number of options in Brazil's treatment guidelines, the steadily rising number of patients commencing treatment, and patients' shifts to second- and third-line treatments when their HIV infection became resistant to first-line drugs or they developed side effects. The researchers report that the generic drugs produced in Brazil were generally more expensive than similar drugs made elsewhere, but Brazil's negotiated drug prices for many patented ARVs were lower than elsewhere. Overall, total annual drug expenditure on ARVs doubled between 2001 and 2005, reaching US$414 million in 2005. Because many drug prices fell sharply as a result of declining patented drug prices over the study period, this increase was mainly attributable to increases in drug quantities purchased. If these quantities had stayed constant, the total annual cost would have increased by only $7 million, to $211 million. Conversely, without the decrease in the price of patented drugs, Brazil would have spent $952 million annually by 2005. If Brazil had enjoyed the lowest global prices for generic medicines, the total costs per year in 2005 would have been $367 million, or nearly $50 million less than the costs Brazil actually realized.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings tease out the many factors—clinical, commercial, and political—that affected the total costs of the Brazilian AIDS treatment program between 2001 and 2005.
Brazil's ability to produce generic drugs facilitated Brazil's price negotiations for patented drugs. Although Brazil saved approximately US$1 billion over the study period as a result of declining prices for patented medicines, the cost of producing generic drugs locally has risen while the prices for generic drugs have fallen elsewhere. Brazil's recent decision to import a generic ARV using a compulsory license suggests that the Brazilian model for AIDS treatment continues to evolve.
Questions remain about the precise causes of year-to-year cost trends in Brazil because, for example, the researchers did not have full data on when patients switched from first-line to second- or third-line drugs. The observed steep rise in costs from 2004 to 2005 in particular warrants further analysis. In addition, the findings may not be generalizable to countries with different policies on HIV/AIDS treatment, different access to generic drugs, or different bargaining power with multinational drug companies. Nevertheless, the trends this study highlights provide important information about how AIDS treatment costs are likely to evolve in other developing countries as efforts are made to provide universal access to life-saving ARVs.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040305.
Information from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
Information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on global HIV/AIDS topics (in English and Spanish)
HIV InSite, comprehensive and up-to-date information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS from the University of California San Francisco
Information from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on HIV and AIDS in Brazil and on HIV/AIDS treatment and care, including universal access to ARVs
Progress towards universal access to HIV/AIDS treatment, the latest report from the World Health Organization (available in several languages)
The National STD and AIDS Program of Brazil
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040305
PMCID: PMC2071936  PMID: 18001145
22.  APRI and FIB-4 scores are not associated with neurocognitive impairment in HIV-infected persons 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19658.
Introduction
Chronic liver disease leads to neurocognitive impairment (NCI) and more advanced liver fibrosis is associated with greater deficits. Further, cognitive performances do not differ significantly among patients affected by diverse types of chronic liver diseases. Thus, it would be useful to have a clinical tool associated with early cognitive change applicable to the HIV-infected population with high HCV prevalence. Aim of the analysis was to assess the association between NCI and aspartate aminotransferase-platelet ratio index (APRI) or Fibrosis-4, which are non-invasive scores used to assess liver fibrosis.
Materials and Methods
Single-centre, retrospective, cross-sectional analysis of cART-treated HIV-infected patients undergoing neuropsychological assessment (NPA) by a set of 14 standardized and comprehensive tests on five different domains: concentration and speed of mental processing; mental flexibility; memory, fine motor functioning; visual-spatial and constructional abilities. NPA obtained from the same patient were included, if collected while receiving different cART. Patients were classified as having NCI, if they scored >1 SD below the normative mean in at least two tests, or below >2 SD in one test. HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) were classified according to Frascati's criteria, controlling for confounding comorbidities. Univariable analysis and multivariable logistic regression models were carried out.
Results
A total of 556 HIV-infected cART-treated patients from 2006 to 2013 were included: male 78%; IVDUs 14%; CDC stage C 31%; median CD4 nadir 200/mm3; median current CD4 501/mm3; undetectable HIV-RNA in 368 (67%); and HCV-positivity in 150 (29%). Frequency among score levels was for FIB-4: min-1.44=404 (73%), 1.45–3.25=118 (21%), 3.26-max=28 (5%); for APRI: min-0.5=414 (75%), 0.5–1.5=112 (20%), 1.5-max=24 (4%). Median FIB-4 and APRI were 0.98 and 0.27 in HIV+/HCV- and 1.40 and 0.50 in HIV+/HCV+ individuals, respectively. HAND was found in 176 (32%): 91 ANI, 73 MND, 12 HAD. Association of variables with NCI are shown in Table 1.
Conclusions
In this large population, HAND was not associated with commonly used non-invasive liver fibrosis scores. As aetiology of cognitive dysfunction in HIV mono- and HCV co-infected patients is multifactorial and partially unknown, our results support the hypothesis of a direct or indirect effect on cognitive function of the viruses, rather than the consequence of alterations residing outside the brain.
doi:10.7448/IAS.17.4.19658
PMCID: PMC4225420  PMID: 25394162
23.  Plasmacytoid Dendritic cells (pDCs) in HIV-infected and HIV/HCV-co-infected patients receiving successful treatment 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19642.
Introduction
Depletion of cellular pool and constant activation of plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) in HIV-infected persons (HIV+) are associated with disease progression and manifestation of opportunistic infections. The influence of highly-active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) and suppressed HCV-co-infection (HIV+/HCV+) on the extent of these changes remains unknown.
Objective
To study parameters of pDCs in peripheral blood of HIV+ and HIV+/HCV+ patients on HAART.
Methods
Twelve uninfected with HIV or HCV volunteers and 37 patients (12 HIV+, 9 HIV+/HCV+ and 16 HCV+) were enrolled. All HIV+ patients received HAART and had undetermined HIV viral load. All HCV+ patients had finished antiviral therapy (Pegasys/ribavirin) with sustained viral response for six months and more. The pDC population was enumerated by flow cytometry. In vitro IFN production in the whole blood in response to pDC-specific stimulus unmethylated CpG oligonucleotides was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Results
The percentage of pDCs of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in HIV+/HCV+ was the lowest (0.08±0.02) but statistically not different from HIV+ (0.15±0.03; p=0.11) and significantly lower than HCV+ (0.17±0.015; p=0.4) and controls (0.27±0.045; p=0.03). Absolute number of pDCs in HIV+ on HAART (6.3±1.3) was not significantly lower than the control (10.25±1.75; p=0.09) but in HIV+/HCV+ (5.1±1.2; p=0.03), the difference was valid. IFN-alpha production by pDCs in patients on HAART in HIV+ (2.4±0.9 pg/µl) and in HIV+/HCV+ (3.7±1 pg/µl) patients were significantly higher than in controls (in controls IFN-alpha production by pDCs in the native plasma was below the level of detection (3 pg/µl), p=0.02 and p=0.0014).
Conclusions
Absolute number of pDC in HIV-positive person on HAART with sustained viral response to treatment of HCV-co-infection was lower than in HIV-mono-infected. IFN-alpha production by pDC in HIV+ and in HIV+/HCV+ patients receiving HAART remains higher than in uninfected persons.
doi:10.7448/IAS.17.4.19642
PMCID: PMC4224920  PMID: 25394146
24.  Marijuana Smoking Does Not Accelerate Progression of Liver Disease in HIV–Hepatitis C Coinfection: A Longitudinal Cohort Analysis 
In a large human immunodeficiency virus–hepatitis C virus coinfection cohort, we found no evidence that marijuana smoking accelerated progression to significant liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, or end-stage liver disease. Previous studies reporting an association may have been biased by reverse causation due to self-medication.
Background. Marijuana smoking is common and believed to relieve many symptoms, but daily use has been associated with liver fibrosis in cross-sectional studies. We aimed to estimate the effect of marijuana smoking on liver disease progression in a Canadian prospective multicenter cohort of human immunodeficiency virus/hepatitis C virus (HIV/HCV) coinfected persons.
Methods. Data were analyzed for 690 HCV polymerase chain reaction positive (PCR-positive) individuals without significant fibrosis or end-stage liver disease (ESLD) at baseline. Time-updated Cox Proportional Hazards models were used to assess the association between the average number of joints smoked/week and progression to significant liver fibrosis (APRI ≥ 1.5), cirrhosis (APRI ≥ 2) or ESLD.
Results At baseline, 53% had smoked marijuana in the past 6 months, consuming a median of 7 joints/week (IQR, 1–21); 40% smoked daily. There was no evidence that marijuana smoking accelerates progression to significant liver fibrosis (APRI ≥ 1.5) or cirrhosis (APRI ≥ 2; hazard ratio [HR]: 1.02 [0.93–1.12] and 0.99 [0.88–1.12], respectively). Each 10 additional joints/week smoked slightly increased the risk of progression to a clinical diagnosis of cirrhosis and ESLD combined (HR, 1.13 [1.01–1.28]). However, when exposure was lagged to 6–12 months before the diagnosis, marijuana was no longer associated with clinical disease progression (HR, 1.10 [0.95–1.26]).
Conclusions In this prospective analysis we found no evidence for an association between marijuana smoking and significant liver fibrosis progression in HIV/HCV coinfection. A slight increase in the hazard of cirrhosis and ESLD with higher intensity of marijuana smoking was attenuated after lagging marijuana exposure, suggesting that reverse causation due to self-medication could explain previous results.
doi:10.1093/cid/cit378
PMCID: PMC3739469  PMID: 23811492
HIV; HCV; cannabis; liver disease; cohort study
25.  Prevalence of Anemia and Immunological Markers in HIV-Infected Patients on Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy in Northeastern Nigeria 
Infectious Diseases  2013;6:25-33.
Background
There are conflicting reports on the impact of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in resolving hematological complications. Whereas some studies have reported improvements in hemoglobin and other hematological parameters resulting in reduction in morbidity and mortality of HIV patients, others have reported no improvement in hematocrit values of HAART-treated HIV patients compared with HAART-naïve patients.
Objective
This current study was designed to assess the impact of HAART in resolving immunological and hematological complications in HIV patients by comparatively analyzing the results (immunological and hematological) of HAART-naive patients and those on HAART in our environment.
Methods
A total of 500 patients participated, consisting of 315 HAART-naive (119 males and 196 females) patients and 185 HAART-experienced (67 males and 118 females) patients. Hemoglobin (Hb), CD4+ T-cell count, total white blood count (WBC), lymphocyte percentage, plateletes, and plasma HIV RNA were determined.
Results
HAART-experienced patients were older than their HAART-naive counterparts. In HAART-naive patients, the incidence of anemia (packed cell volume [PCV] <30%) was 57.5%, leukopenia (WBC < 2.5), 6.1%, and thrombocytopenia < 150, 9.6%; it was, significantly higher compared with their counterparts on HAART (24.3%, 1.7%, and 1.2%, respectively). The use of HAART was not associated with severe anemia. Of HAART-naive patients, 57.5% had a CD4 count < 200 cells/μL in comparison with 20.4% of HAART-experienced patients (P < 0.001). The mean viral load log10 was significantly higher in HAART-naive than in HAART-experienced patients (P < 0.001). Total lymphocyte count < 1.0 was a significant predictor of
Conclusion
HAART has the capability of reducing the incidence of anemia, other deranged hematological and immunological parameters associated with disease progression, and death in HIV-infected patients. Total lymphocyte count fails to predict CD4 count < 200 cells/μL in our cohort; thus, its use in the management and monitoring of HIV-infected patients in our settings is not reliable.
doi:10.4137/IDRT.S10477
PMCID: PMC3988622  PMID: 24847174
antiretroviral; lymphocyte; total leukocyte count; CD4; World Health Organization/Aids Clinical Trials Group

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