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HIV, Hepatitis C Co-Infection Worsens Cognitive Function

But cognition significantly improves after six months of antiretroviral treatment

FRIDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Patients co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) may have significantly greater neurocognitive declines than patients infected with HIV alone, although these differences largely disappear after antiretroviral treatment, according to a study in the Aug. 1 issue of AIDS.

Thomas D. Parsons, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues examined neurocognitive function in 45 patients infected with HIV alone and 20 patients co-infected with HIV and HCV. Thirty-one mono-infected patients and 13 co-infected patients were re-evaluated after six months of highly active antiretroviral therapy.

Compared to the mono-infected group, the researchers found that co-infected patients were more likely to perform poorly at baseline on tests of visual memory (75 percent versus 47 percent), fine motor speed (60 percent versus 23 percent), with co-infection accounting for 20 percent of the difference. However, there were no significant differences in performance after antiretroviral treatment, although visual memory remained borderline significantly worse, the report indicates.

"This suggests that the neurocognitive difficulties associated with HCV may be amenable to treatment with antiretroviral therapy, and the co-infected subjects may have increased benefit from antiretroviral therapy," the authors conclude.

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