In a cohort of men who have sex with men, most of whom were infected with human immunodeficiency virus, men chronically infected with hepatitis B were 2-fold more likely to die a liver-related death than those chronically infected with hepatitis C.
Background. It is not known whether chronic hepatitis B (CH-B) or chronic hepatitis C (CH-C) carries a greater risk of liver-related mortality. This study compared rates of liver-related mortality between these 2 groups in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS).
Methods. Six hundred eighty men with CH-B (n = 337) or CH-C (n = 343) at study entry into the MACS were prospectively followed to death, last follow-up visit, or 30 March 2010, whichever came first. Four hundred seventy-two (69.4%) of these men were infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Causes of death were obtained from death registry matching and death certificates. Liver-related and all-cause mortality rates (MRs) were compared between groups using Poisson regression and adjusted for potential confounders and competing risks.
Results. In 6728 person-years (PYs) of follow-up, there were 293 deaths from all causes (43.5 per 1000 PYs), of which 51 were liver-related (7.6 per 1000 PYs). The all-cause MR was similar between those with CH-B and CH-C; however, the liver-related MR was significantly higher in those with CH-B (9.6 per 1000 PYs; 95% confidence interval [CI], 6.9–13.2) than those with CH-C (5.0 per 1000 PYs; 95% CI, 3.0–8.4). In the HIV-infected subgroup, which had 46 (90.2%) of the liver-related deaths, the liver-related MR remained higher from CH-B after adjusting for potential confounders (incidence rate ratio, 2.2; P = .03) and competing risks (subhazard rate ratio, 2.4; P = .02). Furthermore, among HIV-infected subjects, CD4 cell counts <200 cells/mm3 were associated with a 16.2-fold (95% CI, 6.1–42.8) increased risk of liver-related death compared with CD4 cell counts >350 cell/mm3.
Conclusions. Chronic hepatitis B carries a higher risk of death from liver disease than does CH-C, especially in HIV-infected men with greater immunosuppression.