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Understanding Hepatitis : Its Complex Relationship with Diabetes and HIV

There has been a growing concern in patients affected by chronic Hepatitis virus infection because hepatitis not only affects the liver but can also have significant impacts on the overall health of the individuals, potentially leading to the development of several worse conditions, such as diabetes or HIV.

  1. Hepatitis and Diabetes: The Complex Relationship

    1. Hepatitis Influences Diabetes: Discussion 1

      Studies have revealed a significant link between chronic hepatitis virus infection and the risk of developing diabetes.(1) The World Health Organization (WHO) has mentioned that 170 million individuals are infected chronically with hepatitis C virus (HCV) worldwide,(2) and 347 million people have diabetes mellitus. Despite the reduced prevalence of hepatitis C infection in the U.S., the burden of the disease continues to grow because the hepatitis C-related diseases.(3) A large number of studies have reported an increased risk for type 2 diabetes in patients with hepatitis C virus infection.(4)

      Hepatitis is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes because the hepatitis virus impacts the liver, which is involved in storing glucose. When the liver does not function appropriately, it can result in high blood glucose levels and insulin resistance, thus increasing the likelihood of developing diabetes. In addition to this, patients with diabetes face a greater risk of contracting hepatitis B or hepatitis C, which, in turn, can result in more severe outcomes of their hepatitis infection.

    2. Hepatitis Does Not Influence Diabetes: Discussion 2

      Some research has shown there was an increase in rates of diabetes among individuals with hepatitis C virus infection. However, some studies have shown no association between hepatitis C status and diabetes. These few studies could not confirm this association in the absence of liver dysfunction.(5)

      Apart from this, the link between hepatitis B virus infection and diabetes has remained controversial. In certain studies, the prevalence of diabetes was higher in HBsAg (+ve) when compared with HBsAg (-ve)(6, 7, 8), but not in others.(9, 10)

      NOTE: [HBsAg (+ve) and HBsAg (-ve) refer to positive and negative surface antigen statuses].

    3. Hepatitis and Diabetes: Drawing an Inference From the Studies

      Although there are studies that show there hepatitis and diabetes are linked with each other, there are also a few studies that confirm no association between the two conditions. However, the majority of studies strongly support the association between hepatitis and diabetes.

      While insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are more frequently reported as complications of hepatitis C virus infection, the infection is also known to be linked with multiple autoimmune manifestations, such as type 1 diabetes.(11, 12) In addition to this, therapy used for chronic hepatitis C virus infection, especially interferon alpha (IFNα), can also trigger diabetes.

    4. Preventing or Managing Hepatitis and Diabetes

      Managing both hepatitis and diabetes needs a comprehensive approach. From blood sugar management to essential vaccinations and infection control, and from dietary modification to taking proper healthcare, everything is essential. Someone facing both these challenges should go for regular check-ups, have proper medication management, and lifestyle modifications. One should also try to lose weight by exercising and healthy eating. All these would help in maintaining overall health.

  2. Hepatitis and HIV

    1. A Brief Note

      Hepatitis C (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections are commonly seen among HIV patients. This is because HCV and HBV infections and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection have shared routes of viral transmission. In recent times, liver disease due to chronic hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus infection has turned out to be a leading cause of death among people with HIV infections globally.(13) So, despite being two separate viral diseases, hepatitis and HIV have a strong connection due to their common mode of transmission.

      Hepatitis A and HIV

      Since 2016, widespread hepatitis A outbreaks associated with person-to-person transmission have been occurring. Patients with HIV who have underlying liver disease are at risk of developing severe disease from an infection of the hepatitis A virus.(14) So, it is recommended by the CDC and ACIP that such a population should take hepatitis A vaccination positively.

    2. Hepatitis B and HIV

      Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), both are bloodborne viruses, primarily transmitted through sexual contact and also the use of injection-drug. Since both these infections are caused due to shared modes of transmission, a high proportion of adults who are at risk of HIV infection are also at risk of developing hepatitis B infection. Patients with human immunodeficiency virus who become infected with hepatitis B virus are at severe risk for liver-related morbidity and mortality.(15, 16, 17, 18)

      To prevent hepatitis B infection, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends universal hepatitis B vaccination for all susceptible patients being infected with HIV.(19) HIV patients who test positive for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, should receive HIV antiviral medication with activity against HBV, such as Tenofovir and Entecavir.

    3. Hepatitis C and HIV

      In 2009, approximately 21% of adults with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who were tested for past or present HCV infection tested positive. However, the prevalence of confection varies substantially according to risk group (for instance, men who had sex with men (MSM), people who were exposed to injected drugs, and high-risk heterosexuals.(20, 21, 22)

      Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection can also affect the management of HIV infection. CDC has recommended a one-time hepatitis C testing for all adults, including those with HIV.(23)

    4. Preventing Hepatitis and HIV

      Patients with HIV or AIDS must be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B and also tested for hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV)

      However, in 2020, the CDC and ACIP started recommending that everyone with HIV, who are less than one year of age should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and receive postvaccination serologic testing less than one month after completing the series of hepatitis A vaccine.(24)

  3. Hepatitis, Diabetes, and HIV: A Dangerous Trio

    Due to frequent percutaneous exposure to blood, patients with diabetes face an increasing risk of hepatitis B. Additionally, co-infection with both HIV and viral hepatitis can have significant effects on infected persons. Liver disease, usually associated with hepatitis B or hepatitis C, is a leading cause of developing non-AIDS-related mortalities among patients with HIV.(25)

  4. Final Words

    It is important to understand the connections between hepatitis and other chronic conditions, such as HIV and diabetes. This would help develop comprehensive healthcare management. The impact of hepatitis on the liver and its potential ramifications on glucose metabolism can affect the patient’s overall health. Thus, people with diabetes must be vigilant about the prevention of hepatitis and vice versa. Similarly, patients with HIV should also be mindful of potential co-infection with the hepatitis virus. Thus, being more aware of these conditions and regularly consulting and following up with doctor’s prescribed treatments could help in living an overall healthy life. Apart from being more aware of the conditions, taking all necessary preventive measures, and frequent medical consultation is highly essential for individuals affected by these chronic conditions.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 4, 2023

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