Researchers conducting a large clinical trial of people infected with both HIV and hepatitis C have some positive news to report. According to their study, patients who are treated with a newer combination of drugs are significantly more likely to rid their bodies of HCV than those who receive standard therapy.
The finding is important because as many as 300,000 of the estimated 1 million Americans infected with HIV also have HCV, and as people live longer with HIV, HCV is becoming a serious health problem.
The multinational study compared treatment with the drugs peginterferon alfa-2a (Pegasys) and ribavirin (Copegus) to treatment with the older treatment of interferon (Roferon-A) and ribavirin. Results showed the Pegasys-ribavirin combo was 40-percent effective in reducing HCV RNA to undetectable levels, compared to 12 percent for the older treatment. The drugs were even more effective in patients with the HCV genotypes 2 and 3, reaching 62-percent effectiveness. Patients with these genotypes who were on interferon-ribavirin saw a 36-percent effectiveness rate.The Pegasys-ribavirin combination in patients with genotype 1, typically the most difficult to treat HCV genotype, was 29-percent effective. This compares to an effectiveness of 7 percent among those taking interferon-ribavirin.
Researchers say the results of this study are groundbreaking news for the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are living with both hepatitis C and HIV.