It has been reported that GB virus C infection (GBV-C) leads to improved morbidity and mortality in patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. However, GBV-C has no effect on the course of liver disease in hepatitis C virus (HCV) monoinfection. The aim of the study was to determine the influence of GBV-C infection on liver disease in patients with HCV/HIV coinfection.
Data on 158 HCV/HIV patients were collected from January 1996 to October 2005. Two plasma specimens, collected at least 18 months apart, were tested for GBV-C RNA by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction with primers to the NS5B gene and confirmed using E2 gene primers and sequencing. Antibodies to GBV-C E2 protein were also determined. Liver-related morbidity and mortality were assessed from patient records.
Fifty-seven of 158 (36%) patients had GBV-C RNA and 94 (59%) had evidence of exposure to GBV-C based on combined polymerase chain reaction and antibody results. Thirty-four (21%) patients had features of cirrhosis, with 20 having compensated and 14 having decompensated cirrhosis. Active GBV-C RNA was significantly associated with a reduction in cirrhosis, both compensated and decompensated in multivariate analysis (hazard ratio, 0.27; 95% confidence interval, 0.08-0.88; P = .03), as well as in analysis for cirrhosis-free survival vs duration of HCV infection (P = .006). No significant effect on liver-related or overall survival was observed.
In these HCV/HIV-coinfected patients, GBV-C RNA was associated with a significant reduction in the severity of HCV-related liver disease.