Thursday, 5 February 2009

HIV-HCV coinfection highest in South India

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 3: HIV patients from South India are two times more
prone to Hepatitis C virus coinfection than their counterparts living in
the North.

Researchers at the city-based Centre for Liver Research and
Diagnostics and the department of biotechnology, Jawaharlal Nehru
Technology University, found that the incidence of HIV and hepatitis C
virus coinfection is 3.02 per cent among HIV patients living down the
Vindhyas. The average coinfection rate for all-India is about 1.5 per

This in other words means South Indians are more susceptible to
coinfection of HIV and HCV as compared to North Indians. The study
was conducted among others by Dr CM Habibullah, Dr MN Khaja and
Dr M Chandra.

A greater proportion of HIV/HCV coinfected people may progress to
cirrhosis (serious liver scarring) and liver disease than those with HCV
alone. HIV-infected individuals have a high probability of getting
coinfected with HCV.

The team took the samples of 1487 confirmed HIV-positive patients
and tested them for anti-HCV antibodies. Of this, 1443 (97.04 per cent)
were negative and 45 (3.02 per cent) were coinfected. HIV-HCV
coinfection was predominant in the age group 41-50 years (51.1 per

"The results showed that HIV and HCV seroprevalence is higher in
South India, and the most prevalent genotype in coinfection was
genotype 1b," Dr Khaja told this correspondent.

"Prolonged survival of HIV-infected patients coinfected with HCV
may become an important clinical problem. HIV and HCV show some
common biological features like both are RNA viruses and both show a
large heterogenicity of their viral genomes producing various
genotypes," Dr Khaja said.

Globally, a total of 39.5 million are living with HIV, of whom 5.7
million are from India. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome has
grown more rapidly than the scientific progress of understanding how
to control the main causative agent.

Globally, hepatitis C virus has infected more than 170 million people
and thus represents a viral pandemic seven times more widespread than
infection with the HIV.
It is estimated that in India about 1.8-2.5 per cent of the population is
presently infected by HCV and about 20 million people are already
having HCV infection.

"The objective is determine the prevalence of HCV antibodies in the
HIV-infected Indian population. This is aimed at providing the baseline
data on HIV/HCV coinfection and gaining better understanding of the
public health issues," he pointed out.

The male predominance was more with 61.5 per cent compared to
females by 38.4 per cent and the median age was 37 years, ranging
from 20 to 55 years. Of them 1183 (79.5 per cent) were heterosexual,
69 (4.64 per cent) were intravenous drug users (IVDs), 45 (3.02 per
cent) were blood transfusion recipients, 115 (7.73 per cent) were
haemophiliacs and 75 (5.04 per cent) were unnoticed.

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