Objective: To evaluate the neurocognitive function in 220 women enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a study of disease progression in women living with HIV/AIDS and in HIV-negative controls.
Methods: We evaluated the prevalence of abnormal neuropsychological (NP) results in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive compared with HCV-negative women in combination with HIV serostatus.
Results: NP impairment was significantly higher for HCV-positive women in comparison with HCV-negative women [odds ratio (OR), 2.03; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.17-3.51]. Women co-infected with HCV and HIV demonstrated greater abnormal NP performance than those not infected with either, particularly if there was evidence of CD4 T-lymphocyte immunosuppression [> 200 × 106 CD4 cells/l (OR, 3.48; 95% CI, 1.49-8.15) and ≤ 200 × 106 CD4 cells/l (OR, 5.38; 95% CI, 1.46-19.84)]. Women who were HCV-positive/HIV-positive and not taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) were more likely (OR, 7.03; 95% CI, 2.63-18.82) to demonstrate NP impairment than those who were HCV-negative/HIV-negative. In analyses controlling separately for education, intelligence quotient, depression, sedating drug use, head injury, ethnicity, and history of substance use, HCV continued to significantly predict NP impairment. The HCV effect did not reach significance when controlling for age in bivariate or multivariate analyses although the odds ratio for NP abnormalities in HCV-infected patients was only slightly reduced (ORs above 1.9). After testing for an interaction between age and infection status, we conducted age-stratified analysis and showed a significant effect of infection status for those aged under 40 years.
Conclusions: The effect of aging on co-infected populations will require further study. This study has demonstrated the association of HCV with the risk of neurocognitive impairment in women living with HIV/AIDS and suggests that co-infection has an additive effect.