In the Asia Pacific region Human Immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is often acquired in individuals already infected with hepatitis B virus (HBV). The immune suppression caused by HIV infection reduces cellular immune response against HBV and liver inflammation may improve, but the risk of developing cirrhosis is not. HBV infection does not affect the progression of HIV disease. Anti-retroviral agents may be directly hepatotoxic and cause ALT elevations in patients with chronic hepatitis. Highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) improves immunity and as cytotoxic lymphocyte responses improve, hepatitis flares can occur, usually r within 3 months of initiation of HAART. These hepatitis flares may be followed by normalization of ALT and clearance of HBVDNA. If lamivudine is included in the HAART regime, hepatitis flares may not occur till late and these late flares signal the development of lamivudine resistant HBV strains (90% of HBV/HIV co-infection). Treatment options for chronic HBV infection include interferon (IFN), and nucleoside analogues. Lamivudine, adefovir dipivoxil, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (DF) are nucleoside analogues with activity against both HBVDNA polymerase and HIV reverse transcriptase. The latter two compounds have added activity against lamivudine resistant HBVDNA. Lamivudine should be avoided in the initial treatment of both hepatitis B as well as HIV because of the high incidence of resistance. Interferon should be considered first for treatment of HBV in HIV co-infected individuals and is usually unsuccessful in the later stages of HIV infection when immune suppression is extreme. As new and improved agents in HAART continue to prolong survival, the use of liver transplantation for cirrhotic patients co-infected with HIV and HBV may increase.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.