Clinical and epidemiological aspects of HIV and Hepatitis C virus co-infection in KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.
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HIV is known to affect the epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis and natural history of HCV infection whilst studies on the effects of HCV on HIV have shown conflicting results and are confounded by the influence of intravenous drug use and anti-retroviral therapy. This study was conducted in KwaZulu-Natal Province in South Africa where HIV is predominantly a sexually transmitted infection. Intravenous drug use is rare in this region and the study population was naive to anti-retroviral therapy. For this study, specimens from selected sentinel sites submitted to a central laboratory for routine HIV testing were screened for anti-HCV IgG antibodies. HIV positive HCV-positive patients were compared to HIV-positive HCV-negative patients in a subgroup of patients within this cohort in order to determine if HCV sero-prevalence was associated with clinical outcomes in a linked anonymous retrospective chart survey. The prevalence of HCV was 6.4% and that of HIV, 40.2%. There was a significantly higher prevalence of HCV among HIV infected patients as compared to HIV negative patients (13.4% vs. 1.73% respectively). HCV-HIV co-infected patients had significantly increased mortality (8.3 vs. 21%). A significant association was found between HCV serostatus and abnormal urea and creatinine levels. Hepatitis B surface antigen seropo-sitivity was not found to be a confounding factor. This study has found that hepatitis C co-infection is more common in HIV positive individuals and is associated with an increased mortality and renal morbidity.