Treating hepatitis co-infection in HIV affected is important: Expert

Co-infections of hepatitis viruses in HIV affected individuals is a major cause for concern and our medical experts should take cognizance of it, Prof. SP Thyagarajan, former vice-chancellor of Madras University and current Professor of Eminence & Dean (Research) at Sri Ramchandra University, Chennai.

“HIV cases should be screened for other viruses and a holistic treatment given to patients for a better quality life,” he said while delivering the eighth Professor JV Bhat Memorial Oration at School of Life Sciences, Manipal University here on Monday.

“Since most of the HIV-related mortality is due to these liver infections, and not necessarily from that of HIV, the experts should pay attention to the viruses as there is sufficient evidence to show they exist. All viruses should be taken into consideration together and treated appropriately. Because if HIV is treated and contained, the hepatitis viruses’ problem still remains,” said Professor Thyagarajan and added by doing so, the mortality rate can be reduced.

He spoke on the co-infection of HIV and the various forms of Hepatitis Virus (HBV, HCV etc.) in Indian population. A pioneer in this area of research, he gave an overview of the different facets of the HIV-HBV and HIV-HCV co-infections.

Backed by scientific data, he showed that co-infection of HIV-HCV was much more prevalent in the population than that of HIV-HBV co-infection.

He also pointed out that with advances in anti-retroviral therapy (ART) death due to HIV infections has been on the wane. However, most of the deaths that still occur are due to secondary or co-infections with liver diseases due to hepatitis virus co-infection being the most common cause. These can, with the help of available prognostic markers and treatment modalities, be altered with interactions between the clinicians and the diagnostic microbiologists.

The Prof. JV Bhat Memorial Oration is an initiative of the School of Life Sciences and Manipal University. Earlier, Prof. PM Gopinath welcomed the gathering. Dr H. Vinod Bhat, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Manipal University in his presidential address recalled the humble beginnings of this oration lecture and marveled at the prestige and history that it has attained. He also highlighted the research and efforts of Prof. SP Thyagarajan in his pioneering research on HIV-Hepatitis co-infections, how he helped the community in treatment of such conditions and also his role in educating students at various levels.

The article appeared in The Times of India on March 3rd, 2014. 

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