Common Co-Infections With Hepatitis C
Various co-infections can be common with hepatitis C. It’s important to understand what the co-infections are in order to be tested and seek the necessary treatment.
The most common co-infections with hepatitis C are hepatitis B and/or HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus).
- Hepatits B
- Infection with more than one hepatitis C (HCV) genotype
What should I know about these co-infections?
For hepatitis C (HCV)/hepatitis B (HBV) patients, treatment for hepatitis C has a high cure rate for HCV and may reduce liver damage if treatment is taken early.
The Hepatitis B Foundation states, “The primary concern with HBV/HCV co-infection is that it can lead to more severe liver disease and an increased risk for progression to liver cancer (HCC)”.1 Early treatment is recommended.
HIV.gov states, “people with HIV infection in the United States are often affected by chronic viral hepatitis; about one-third are co-infected with either hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV). More people living with HIV are infected with HCV than with HBV. About 1 in 10 people living with HIV are co-infected with HBV, and about 1 in 4 people are co-infected with HCV.”2
How can I prevent them?
Since many of the transmission risks are similar, it’s important to be tested and understand how to treat hepatitis C along with other co-infections. Testing is proactive and can help save lives.
Though there are no vaccines for hepatitis C and HIV, all hepatitis C and HIV patients should be vaccinated for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
It is possible that a hepatitis C patient can be infected with more than one genotype (virus strain) of hepatitis C at the same time. There are 7 known genotypes of hepatitis C, with 1-6 being the most common. There are a variety of treatment options available for all genotypes.
What should I ask my doctor?
It's important to discuss any prior diagnosis of all medical conditions with your physician. While these are common co-infections with hepatitis C, patients with any combination of co-infections should see a specialist.
Be proactive. Talk with your physician and healthcare team about the following:
- Ask for testing if you are concerned about a certain condition or co-infection. Discuss all tests you have received and ask for a copy of all test reports. Know how to access any online patient portal to communicate with your physician.
- Discuss the condition of your liver (as shown by blood tests, MRI, liver biopsy/Fibroscan, etc).
- Blood work: genotype testing to determine virus strain, viral load to show viral activity.
- Treatment options
- Transmission precautions that need to be taken.
- All symptoms you’re experiencing
- Other medical conditions you may have and how these are affected
- Medications (prescription and over-the-counter) and all vitamins and supplements you take
- Discuss any changes you need to make to your diet, exercise, medications, etc
- Ask about seeking a specialist if you have been diagnosed with an additional condition or co-infection with hepatitis C
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