Deferring hepatitis C treatment can lead to liver cancer and death, despite cure

HIV/HCV coinfected people who delay hepatitis C treatment remain at risk for liver failure, hepatocellular carcinoma and liver-related death even after being cured with outcomes worsening the longer it is put off  indicating that treatment should not be deferred until advanced disease, according to a presentation at the 2015 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) last week in Seattle. Treating only after progression to cirrhosis increased the risk of liver-related death by more than five-fold and the duration of infectiousness by four-fold.

Over years or decades chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can lead to advanced liver disease including cirrhosis (scarring), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC; a type of primary liver cancer) and end-stage liver failure. People with HIV/HCV coinfection experience faster disease progression, on average, than those with HCV alone. Successful hepatitis C treatment reduces - but does not eliminate - the risk.

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