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Drinking poses greater risk for advanced liver disease in HIV/hep C patients
Date:5/2/2014

PHILADELPHIAConsumption of alcohol has long been associated with an increased risk of advanced liver fibrosis, but a new study published online in Clinical Infectious Diseases from researchers at Penn Medicine and other institutions shows that association is drastically heightened in people co-infected with both HIV and chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Even light ("nonhazardous") drinkingwhich typically poses a relatively low risk for uninfected personswas linked to an increased risk of liver fibrosis in the co-infected group.

Reasons for this are not fully understood, but preclinical studies have shown that the two viruses can induce liver cell death and that adding alcohol may accelerate that process and more quickly lead to severe liver fibrosis. Toxicity to the liver from antiretroviral drugs may also be exacerbated by alcohol.

"We've shown a much greater risk for coinfected compared to uninfected persons at all levels of alcohol consumptionfrom nonhazardous drinking up to hazardous/binge drinking and abuse/dependence," said senior author Vincent Lo Re III, MD, MSCE, assistant professor of Medicine and Epidemiology in the division of Infectious Diseases and department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Penn and an infectious disease physician at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Philadelphia. "This highlights how important it is for clinicians to be counseling co-infected patients on reducing alcohol consumption. More communication and education about the risks of alcohol may prompt patients to reduce drinking or quit altogether, which will help reduce the incidence of complications."

Few studies have investigated the association between alcohol and liver disease in HIV/HCV-co-infected patients, and none have compared risks to uninfe
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Contact: Steve Graff
stephen.graff@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5653
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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