Hepatitis, often caused by a virus, is an inflammation of the liver. The most common causes of viral Hepatitis in the U.S. are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C. Hepatitis A appears only as an acute or newly occurring infection and does not become chronic. However, unlike Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and C are common among HIV-positive individuals because transmission occurs in a similar manner to HIV—through intravenous drug use (i.e. needles) and condom-less sex. Those who have HIV and a second virus like hepatitis are considered to be coinfected.
Furthermore, viral hepatitis causes more liver-related health problems and progresses faster among people with HIV than those who do not. Although treatment exists for both viral hepatitis and HIV, liver disease – which is often attributable to hepatitis C and B – has become the leading non-AIDS cause of death among people living with HIV.
Treatments exist for both viral hepatitis and HIV, and through accurate education of the public we can reduce the number of deaths from hepatitis-related liver disease.