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HIV, hepatitis C and HIV/hepatitis C virus co-infection in vulnerable populations

Backus, Lisa Ia; Boothroyd, Dereka; Deyton, Lawrence Rb

Section I: Vulnerable populations

Objective: To describe basic patient demographic and clinical characteristics of HIV-infected and HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV)-co-infected patients receiving care in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) with a focus on some patient factors that place such patients at an increased risk of poor health outcomes.

Design: An observational retrospective cohort study.

Methods: The study cohort consisted of veterans in the VA Immunology Case Registry who received care in the VA in 2002.

Results: Of 18 349 HIV-infected patients, 6782 (37.0%) were HCV seropositive. Compared with HIV-alone-infected patients, HIV/HCV-co-infected patients were older, more likely to be men, more likely to be black or Hispanic, and more likely to report intravenous drug use as a risk factor for HIV acquisition. HIV/HCV-co-infected patients were more likely to have diagnoses of mental health illness, depression, alcohol abuse, substance abuse and hard drug abuse compared with HIV-alone-infected patients. Co-infected patients were less likely to have a history of an AIDS opportunistic infection ever and were less likely to have received HIV antiretroviral drugs in 2002.

Conclusion: The VA's HIV and HIV/HCV-co-infected patient populations have very high rates of additional comorbid conditions that complicate both the pharmacological therapy and clinical course of both HIV and HCV infections. Given the overlap in viral illness and comorbidities, optimal models of integrated care need to be developed for populations with HIV, HCV, and HIV/HCV co-infection and who need substance abuse treatment or mental healthcare.

From the aCenter for Quality Management in Public Health, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto, CA, USA

bPublic Health Strategic Health Care Group, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC, USA.

Correspondence to Lawrence R. Deyton, MSPH MD, PHSHCG 13B, US Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20420, USA. E-mail: dr.bopper.deyton@hq.med.va.gov

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.