Recent research says, people infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV are less likely to respond to pegylated interferon plus ribavirin (PEG/RBV) – a treatment for HCV – if they have low vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D deficiency is common in people with HIV and HCV. A correlation between vitamin D levels and PEG/RBV treatment response in co-infected people had not been assessed until the present study by the Vienna HIV & Liver Study Group.
This group of researchers recruited 65 people with HCV and HIV who had record of a liver biopsy and virologic response data. They determined vitamin D status from stored blood samples collected within 1 month before HCV therapy began.
The authors found that 20% of participants had normal vitamin D levels (> 30 ng/ml), while 57% were vitamin D insufficient (10-30 ng/ml), and 23% were vitamin D deficient (< 10 ng/ml). They report that early virologic response rates – meaning HCV is not detectable in the blood after 12 weeks of treatment – were significantly more frequent in patients with sufficient vitamin D status (92%) than in those with insufficient (68%) or deficient (47%) levels. Patients were also more likely to have a sustained virologic response – HCV isn’t detected in the blood 6 months after completing treatment – if they were vitamin D sufficient (85%) compared to those with insufficiency (60%) or deficiency (40%).
The authors concluded,
Low 25(OH)D levels may impair virologic response to PEGIFN + RBV therapy, especially in difficult-to-treat patients. Vitamin D supplementation should be considered and evaluated prospectively in HIV–HCV coinfected patients receiving CHC treatment.
Mandorfer M, Reiberger T, Payer B, Ferlitsch A, Breitenecker F, Aichelburg M, Obermayer-Pietsch B, Rieger Am Trauner M, Peck-Radosavljevic M. Low vitamin D levels are associated with impaired virologic response to PEGIFN+RBV therapy in HIV-hepatitis C virus coinfected patients. AIDS. January 2013.