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Challenges in Providing Treatment and Care for Viral Hepatitis among Individuals Co-Infected with HIV in Resource-Limited Settings

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      Abstract

      Hepatitis B and C infections are prevalent among HIV-infected individuals with different epidemiologic profiles, modes of transmission, natural histories, and treatments. Southeast Asian countries are classified as “highly prevalent zones,” with a rate of hepatitis B and C coinfection in people living with HIV/AIDS of approximately 3.2–11%. Majority of hepatitis B coinfection is of genotype C. Most of the patients infected with hepatitis C in Thailand have genotype 3 which is significantly related to intravenous drug use whereas, in Vietnam, it is genotype 6. The options for antiretroviral drugs are limited and rely on global funds and research facilities. Only HBV treatment is available for free through the national health scheme. Screening tests for HBV and HCV prior to commencing antiretroviral treatment are low. Insufficient concern on hepatitis-virus-related liver malignancy and long-term hepatic morbidities is noted. Cost-effective HCV treatment can be incorporated into the national health program for those who need it by utilizing data obtained from clinical research studies. For example, patients infected with HCV genotype 2/3 with a certain IL-28B polymorphism can be treated with a shorter course of interferon and ribavirin which can also help reduce costs.

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      Genetic variation in IL28B predicts hepatitis C treatment-induced viral clearance.

      Chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects 170 million people worldwide and is the leading cause of cirrhosis in North America. Although the recommended treatment for chronic infection involves a 48-week course of peginterferon-alpha-2b (PegIFN-alpha-2b) or -alpha-2a (PegIFN-alpha-2a) combined with ribavirin (RBV), it is well known that many patients will not be cured by treatment, and that patients of European ancestry have a significantly higher probability of being cured than patients of African ancestry. In addition to limited efficacy, treatment is often poorly tolerated because of side effects that prevent some patients from completing therapy. For these reasons, identification of the determinants of response to treatment is a high priority. Here we report that a genetic polymorphism near the IL28B gene, encoding interferon-lambda-3 (IFN-lambda-3), is associated with an approximately twofold change in response to treatment, both among patients of European ancestry (P = 1.06 x 10(-25)) and African-Americans (P = 2.06 x 10(-3)). Because the genotype leading to better response is in substantially greater frequency in European than African populations, this genetic polymorphism also explains approximately half of the difference in response rates between African-Americans and patients of European ancestry.
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        Boceprevir for untreated chronic HCV genotype 1 infection.

        Peginterferon-ribavirin therapy is the current standard of care for chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV). The rate of sustained virologic response has been below 50% in cases of HCV genotype 1 infection. Boceprevir, a potent oral HCV-protease inhibitor, has been evaluated as an additional treatment in phase 1 and phase 2 studies. We conducted a double-blind study in which previously untreated adults with HCV genotype 1 infection were randomly assigned to one of three groups. In all three groups, peginterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin were administered for 4 weeks (the lead-in period). Subsequently, group 1 (the control group) received placebo plus peginterferon-ribavirin for 44 weeks; group 2 received boceprevir plus peginterferon-ribavirin for 24 weeks, and those with a detectable HCV RNA level between weeks 8 and 24 received placebo plus peginterferon-ribavirin for an additional 20 weeks; and group 3 received boceprevir plus peginterferon-ribavirin for 44 weeks. Nonblack patients and black patients were enrolled and analyzed separately. A total of 938 nonblack and 159 black patients were treated. In the nonblack cohort, a sustained virologic response was achieved in 125 of the 311 patients (40%) in group 1, in 211 of the 316 patients (67%) in group 2 (P<0.001), and in 213 of the 311 patients (68%) in group 3 (P<0.001). In the black cohort, a sustained virologic response was achieved in 12 of the 52 patients (23%) in group 1, in 22 of the 52 patients (42%) in group 2 (P=0.04), and in 29 of the 55 patients (53%) in group 3 (P=0.004). In group 2, a total of 44% of patients received peginterferon-ribavirin for 28 weeks. Anemia led to dose reductions in 13% of controls and 21% of boceprevir recipients, with discontinuations in 1% and 2%, respectively. The addition of boceprevir to standard therapy with peginterferon-ribavirin, as compared with standard therapy alone, significantly increased the rates of sustained virologic response in previously untreated adults with chronic HCV genotype 1 infection. The rates were similar with 24 weeks and 44 weeks of boceprevir. (Funded by Schering-Plough [now Merck]; SPRINT-2 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00705432.).
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          Genetic variation in IL28B and spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus

          Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is the most common blood borne infection in the U.S. with estimates of 4 million HCV-infected individuals in the U.S. and 170 million worldwide 1 . The majority (70%–80%) of HCV infections persist and about 30% of individuals with persistent infection develop chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma 2 . Epidemiological, viral, and host factors have been associated with the differences in HCV clearance or persistence and studies have demonstrated that a strong host immune response against HCV favors viral clearance 3,4 . Thus, variation in genes involved in the immune response may contribute to the ability to clear the virus. In a recent genome-wide association study, a single nucleotide polymorphism (rs12979860) 3kb upstream of the IL28B gene, which encodes the type III interferon IFN-λ3, was shown to associate strongly with more than a 2-fold difference in response to HCV drug treatment 5 . To determine the potential effect of rs12979860 variation on outcome to HCV infection in a natural history setting, we genotyped this variant in HCV cohorts comprised of individuals who spontaneously cleared the virus (N = 388) or had persistent infection (N = 620). We show that the C/C genotype strongly enhances resolution of HCV infection amongst individuals of both European and African ancestry (European: OR = 0.38, p = 10−7; African: OR = 0.32, p = 10−4; combined: OR = 0.33, p <10−12). To date, this is the strongest and most significant genetic effect associated with natural clearance of HCV, and these results implicate a primary role for IL28B in resolution of HCV infection.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            The HIV Netherlands Australia Thailand Research Collaboration, Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, 104 Rajdumri Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
            Author notes
            *Wirach Maek-a-Nantawat: wirach.m@ 123456hivnat.org

            Academic Editor: Gene D. Morse

            Journal
            AIDS Res Treat
            AIDS Res Treat
            ART
            AIDS Research and Treatment
            Hindawi Publishing Corporation
            2090-1240
            2090-1259
            2012
            26 March 2012
            : 2012
            3318196
            22536498
            10.1155/2012/948059
            Copyright © 2012 Wirach Maek-a-Nantawat et al.

            This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

            Categories
            Review Article

            Infectious disease & Microbiology

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