The American Academy of HIV Medicine has created the AAHIVM Institute for Hepatitis C with the goal of advancing hep C care through education, professional development and advocacy, according to an AAHIVM announcement.

More HIV care providers are seeing patients living with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). In fact, an AAHIVM survey of its members found that one in four of their clients have hep C (including those with and without HIV coinfection).

“We are excited to offer our members a new, more complete focus on HCV through the new institute, and more opportunities to increase their professional development and engagements on this important issue,” said James M. Friedman, Executive Director of AAHIVM.

The Institute for Hepatitis C will have a presence on the AAHIVM website. Information found on the institute’s The Basics webpage states that “since HIV and HCV share similar routes of transmission, approximately one-quarter of all HIV-infected persons in the U.S. are also infected with HCV. This percentage rises to 80 percent in injectable drug users.”

The coinfection epidemic is changing and comes with unique challenges. “What was once a disease of injectable drug users and hemophiliacs has become a sexually transmitted disease of [men who have sex with men, MSM],” the institute notes, adding that “the most striking feature of HCV in HIV is its ability to cause chronic hepatitis in 90 percent of patients by six months.”