Clinical experiences with interferon as monotherapy or in combination with ribavirin in patients co-infected with HIV and HCV

Massimo Puoti, Barbara Zanni, Raffaele Bruno, Monica Airoldi, Stefania Rossi, Eugenia Quiros Roldan, Issa El Hamad, Francesca Moretti, Francesca Castelli, Paolo Sacchi, Gaetano Filice, Giampiero Carosi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) co-infection accelerates progression of hepatitis C virus (HCV) toward cirrhosis. Thus, with the increase of life expectancy observed after introduction of combination antiretroviral treatment, liver disease is becoming an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected patients. In addition, HCV co-infection blunts CD4 restoration induced by HAART and increases HAART hepatotoxicity. For all these reasons, anti-HCV treatment is mandatory in HIV seropositives. The perfect treatment of hepatitis C should not only be safe and effective, but it should not have any adverse impact on HIV diseases and concurrent anti-HIV therapy. Two drugs are currently licensed for treatment of HCV: interferon alfa (IFNα) and ribavirin. Three hundred and thirty-eight patients have been included in pilot studies on the efficacy and tolerability of IFNα monotherapy: 16% showed sustained response and 10% dropped out. No significant adverse impact of IFNα monotherapy on HIV diseases or antiretroviral treatment has been observed. IFNα and ribavirin in combination have been introduced more recently: only 88 patients were included in pilot studies published as full papers with a 25% sustained response and an 11% rate of drop outs. Anemia and cumulative toxicity with didanosine were the most important side effects of combination treatment, but it did not affect HIV disease progression. Higher rates of sustained response (33%) without increase of side effects have been observed in preliminary experiences with the new long-acting pegylated interferons in combination with ribavirin. The search for the perfect treatment continues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-332
Number of pages9
JournalHIV Clinical Trials
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Fibrosis
  • HCV
  • Hepatitis
  • HIV
  • Interferon alfa
  • Ribavirin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology


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