Purpose of review: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART)-related hepatotoxicity, a relevant side effect in HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV) co-infected patients, has evolved over time. Antiretroviral therapy might have a positive effect on the liver of HIV/HCV co-infected patients, but data are conflicting.
Recent findings: HIV treatments have evolved and we have currently a drug armamentarium with a good liver safety profile. Most of the current first-line HAART regimens recommended by guidelines fit well to HIV/HCV co-infected patients. There are now multiple retrospective studies that suggest a possible benefit of HIV control and protection of CD4 cell counts to the liver of HIV/HCV co-infected patients. However, data are conflicting at times. This factor along with the methodological limitations of these studies prevent us from drawing definitive conclusions. Even assuming a positive effect, HAART does not appear to fully correct the adverse effect of HIV infection on HCV-related outcomes. In the era of HCV direct antiviral agents, the timing of HIV and HCV therapies has to be individualized in HIV/HCV co-infected patients given the variety of scenarios.
Summary: With current HIV drug armamentarium it is possible to construct HAART regimens with optimal liver safety profile for HCV co-infected patients. The possible positive effect of HAART on the HCV-infected liver should not distract from the main intervention, which is HCV eradication with specific treatment.