Hepatitis C is a disease caused by a virus that infects the liver. The virus, called hepatitis C virus (HCV), can cause lifelong infection, fibrosis (mild to moderate liver scarring), cirrhosis (serious liver scarring), liver cancer, liver failure and death.
HIV can worsen hepatitis C. Not only does HIV increase the risk of liver damage, but it can also hasten the onset of liver damage following infection. Hepatitis C coinfection can also complicate HIV treatment, since some antiretrovirals (ARVs)—HIV medications—are less liver-friendly than others. For these reasons, hepatitis C is considered an AIDS-related opportunistic infection, at least in the eyes of the U.S. Public Health Service and the Infectious Disease Society of America.
It is important for people who are coinfected with HIV and HCV to work closely with their health care providers in order to safely and effectively monitor and treat both infections.
If you are living with HCV and are NOT coinfected with HIV, please check out Hep's comprehensive lesson on the diagnosis, monitoring and treatment of hepatitis C.