Pegylated Interferon Slows Liver Fibrosis in Co-Infection

The estimated time to cirrhosis remained stable in patients with HIV and hepatitis C

THURSDAY, April 26 (HealthDay News) -- Pegylated interferon alfa-2a treatment reduces or stabilizes liver fibrosis in patients with hepatitis C and HIV co-infection, according to a report in the April issue of the Journal of Hepatology.

Maribel Rodriguez-Torres, M.D., of Ponce School of Medicine in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and colleagues used liver biopsies to compare fibrosis progression rate and the estimated time to cirrhosis in 74 co-infected patients who were treated with interferon, pegylated interferon alfa-2a, or untreated.

The investigators showed that only pegylated interferon alfa-2a-treated patients showed a reduction in the fibrosis progression rate during a two-year period. In patients with no treatment, the estimated time to cirrhosis declined from 22.7 years with the first liver biopsy to 9.09 years based on their second biopsy. In interferon-treated patients it declined from 19.2 years to 9.6 years. However, patients treated with pegylated interferon alfa-2a remained stable at an estimated 22.7 years.

"In this high-risk population with limited liver transplant opportunities and decreased efficacy with hepatitis C virus treatment, benefits of treatment with pegylated interferon alfa-2a/Ribavirin appear to go further than viral clearance," the authors write. "This is our only alternative at this point in time to decrease the high risk of liver-related death in co-infected patients."

The authors received no funding from drug manufacturers or other sources to conduct the study.

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