Many people living with HIV also have hepatitis C (often referred to as co-infection). Liver disease caused by hepatitis C is an important cause of serious illness and death in people with this co-infection.
HCV can cause liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.
Regular monitoring with blood tests and scans such as abdominal ultrasounds helps doctors and the people in their care to make decisions about treatment and care.
Most treatment guidelines recommend that people with hepatitis C-related liver cirrhosis should have an abdominal ultrasound every six to twelve months, to help assess their risk of developing liver cancer.
Researchers in Canada wanted to see if people with hepatitis C and HIV co-infection were receiving this recommended standard of care.
Their study population included 144 people with biopsy-confirmed cirrhosis and 220 people with blood test results suggesting the presence of liver cirrhosis. They received care at 16 centres across Canada between 2003 and 2012.
Over a third of participants in the study (36%), who had confirmed cirrhosis, never had an abdominal ultrasound. Nor did 50% of people with suspected cirrhosis.
Two study participants developed liver cancer without ever having had an abdominal ultrasound.
People with drug abuse problems and those living in poverty were significantly less likely to have ultrasound examinations compared to other people.
Factors associated with having ultrasound screening included taking HIV treatment and problems with alcohol abuse.
People who received care at hospitals with routine prompts to perform ultrasounds were twice as likely to be screened as people whose clinics didn’t have such procedures.
Find out more in our HIV & hepatitis booklet, available in UK clinics and on our website at: www.aidsmap.com/booklets