Being infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) doesn’t prevent people with HIV from experiencing increases in CD4 cells after starting antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, according to a study published in the April issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes and reported by aidsmap.

It is well documented that being infected with both HIV and HCV has negative consequences in terms of HCV liver disease progression. Though researchers have failed to show that HCV hastens HIV disease progression as well, there has been some concern that HCV could reduce a person’s CD4 cell response to ARV treatment.

To explore the impact of HCV on a person’s CD4 recovery after starting ARV treatment, Lars Peters, MD, from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and his colleagues examined the medical records of 4,208 people with HIV enrolled in the EuroSIDA cohort study. Out of that group, 822 were infected with both HIV and HCV.

It turns out that HCV had no impact on CD4 cell recovery once ARV treatment began. Peters and his colleagues found that the average yearly CD4 cell increase was about 36 cells for both people with and without HCV. Other studies have found a blunted CD4 response to ARV therapy in people with HCV. The authors conclude, however, that these studies did not factor in virologic responses to therapy, whereas all the patients included in the EuroSIDA analysis had two consecutive undetectable viral loads (below 50 copies) after starting ARV treatment.