Scientists at Johns Hopkins University report that a new study shows that people infected with both HIV and hepatitis B are 17 times more likely to die from hepatitis complications than are people infected only with the hepatitis B virus, AIDSWeekly reports. As many as 10% of Americans infected with HIV are also infected with hepatitis B. The researchers analyzed clinical data and blood tissue samples from nearly 5,300 men and compared death rates from liver disease for four patient groups--those with only HIV, those with HIV and hepatitis B, those with only hepatitis B, and those not infected with either virus. Overall, patients infected with both viruses were 17 times more likely to die from liver disease than patients with only hepatitis. Liver disease-related death was shown to be highest in men with advanced HIV disease.
"Our results suggest that HIV increases the severity of hepatitis B infections and that physicians may see an increase of hepatitis B-related liver disease in the 1 million people living with HIV in the United States," said lead researcher Chloe Thio. "These results underscore the importance of prevention, treatment, and comprehensive management of hepatitis B in people infected with HIV."