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Influence of antiretroviral therapy on liver disease

Kovari, Helen; Weber, Rainer

Current Opinion in HIV and AIDS: July 2011 - Volume 6 - Issue 4 - p 272–277
doi: 10.1097/COH.0b013e3283473405
Cohort analysis of clinical and treatment outcomes: Edited by Carolyn Williams, Matthew Law and François Dabis

Purpose of review Liver disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected persons. The long-term beneficial versus potentially harmful influence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) on the liver is debated. We review current data on factors contributing to liver disease in HIV-monoinfected as well as in HIV/viral hepatitis-coinfected patients, highlighting the role of ART, HIV itself, immunodeficiency, patient characteristics, and lifestyle risk factors.

Recent findings New ART-related clinical syndromes, including noncirrhotic portal hypertension and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, have emerged, and observational data suggest long-term ART-associated liver injury. Recently, there is increasing evidence that HIV itself and immunosuppression are contributing to liver injury in both HIV-coinfected and HIV-monoinfected patients. In HIV-positive persons, ART attenuates progression of chronic viral hepatitis.

Summary Current expert guidelines recommend earlier treatment of HIV infection in persons coinfected with hepatitis B virus and possibly hepatitis C virus. It is unknown whether an earlier start of ART is beneficial for the liver in HIV-monoinfected patients. Future research should focus on long-term ART-related hepatotoxicity.

Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

Correspondence to Helen Kovari, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, University Hospital, CH-8091 Zurich, Switzerland Tel: +41 44 255 91 95/11 11; fax: +41 44 255 32 91; e-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.