n South African Medical Journal - The HIV/HBV co-infected patient : time for proactive management : editorial

Volume 105, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



Worldwide an estimated 240 million people are chronically infected with chronic hepatitis B virus (CHB), of whom an estimated 3.4 million are coinfected with HIV. Chronic liver disease has emerged as an important cause of morbidity in the HIV-infected population. It is, after opportunistic infections, the second most common cause of death among some populations of HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). In resource-limited settings (RLSs), infection with HIV and hepatitis B virus (HBV) is associated with poorer outcomes than HBV mono-infection. Co-infection is associated with higher rates of HBV persistence after acute infection, and among individuals with CHB, higher HBV DNA levels, a higher prevalence of HBV e antigenaemia, and an increased risk of progression to fibrosis, cirrhosis and possibly hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Identifying patients who are chronically infected and providing specific management improves outcomes. However, screening for active HBV infection before starting ART is not currently part of HIV guidelines in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

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