Hepatitis C more common in sub-Sahara Africa’s HIV patients

Hepatitis C more common in sub-Saharan Africa’s HIV patients
Hepatitis C more common in sub-Saharan Africa’s HIV patients | Courtesy of
A recent study shows evidence that there are high levels of hepatitis C (HCV) infections throughout Africa, especially in HIV-positive patients.

Researchers from Imperial College London and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) conducted the study with data from more than 1.1 million people involved in 213 studies. Three percent of people living in sub-Saharan Africa have HCV infections, and this percentage increases to 5.7 percent in people with HIV infections.

"Viral hepatitis is a huge problem in Africa, but currently there's no fund to provide what could be curative treatment,” study leader Graham Cooke, from the department of medicine at Imperial College London, said. “The global scale-up of HIV treatments has left a legacy of systems for both funding and delivering HIV treatment that could be used to tackle viral hepatitis."

The results will offer policymakers more accurate estimates about HCV infection rates, which will determine the best ways to make treatments available to patients around the world.

"Our study also shows that the challenge spreads far beyond HIV co-infected groups into the general population," Cooke said. "If we're serious about tackling hepatitis, we need better data on who is affected. It's challenging to test everyone so we need ways to do surveillance simply. One possibility is to test pregnant mothers as a proxy for the adult population, and these results suggest that could be a useful strategy."

Further details can be found in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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Imperial College London

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