Hepatitis B Virus / Human Immunodeficiency Virus Co-Infection and Its Hepatocarcinogenic Potential in Sub-Saharan Black Africans


Michael C. Kew 2 , *

2 Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital, University of Cape Town, South Africa

How to Cite: Kew M. Hepatitis B Virus / Human Immunodeficiency Virus Co-Infection and Its Hepatocarcinogenic Potential in Sub-Saharan Black Africans, Hepat Mon. 2012 ; 12(10):7876. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.7876.


Hepatitis Monthly: 12 (10); 7876
Published Online: October 30, 2012
Article Type: Review Article
Received: July 12, 2012
Accepted: August 2, 2012


Context: Since the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral regimen for human immunodeficiency virus-1 infection, a significant increase in the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma has been reported in patients already chronically infected with hepatitis B virus and then given this form of regimen for their retroviral infection.

Evidence Acquisition: This phenomenon was initially attributed to the far more prolonged survival of those patients who received this new regimen, which provided sufficient time, allowing hepatitis B virus-induced hepatocellular carcinoma to develop.

Results: The current belief is that the increased incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma is because of co-infection with the two viruses, one known to be hepatocarcinogenic and the other suspected to increase the carcinogenic potential of the other. Because both hepatitis B virus and human immunodeficiency virus -1 are endemic in the Black population of sub-Saharan Africa and are transmitted in similar ways, as many as 20% of this population are co-infected with the two viruses. In this way, the already high risk of Black African patients developing hepatitis B virus-induced hepatocellular carcinoma is further increased.

Conclusions: The pathogenetic mechanism or mechanisms involved in the carcinogenic interaction between the hepatitis B virus and the human immunodeficiency virus-1 in sub-Saharan Black Africans and other populations co-infected with these viruses have yet to be determined.

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