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Co-Infection

What does co-infection mean?

Co-infection means living with two or more viruses at the same time. Approximately 10,000 people are co-infected with HIV and Hepatitis C (Hep C or HCV), which means about 20% of people living with HIV are also living with Hep C.

As with any virus, introducing another one into your body causes more complications.

Being co-infected gives you a higher chance of developing cirrhosis more quickly and a greater risk for heart disease. You should also be aware that liver disease from HCV is the leading cause of death among people who are co-infected.

If you are co-infected with HIV and HCV, protecting your liver is very important. Protecting your overall immune system is also very important because it helps you fight off disease and keeps you healthy. Finally, it is very important to protect yourself from re-infection of other strains of HIV or HCV.

If you are co-infected

  • If you are co-infected with HIV and HCV, protecting your liver is very important. 
  • Protecting your immune system is very important as well as it helps you fight off disease and keeps you healthy. 
  • It is also very important to protect yourself from re-infection of other strains of HIV or HCV.

What you need to know

  • HIV increases the chances of transmitting HCV through two routes - childbirth and unprotected sex.
  • If a mother who is co-infected gives birth to a baby, there is a higher chance of transmitting HCV to the baby, then if she was only infected with HCV. 
  • The risk of sexual transmission of HCV is low but can greatly increase with the presence of HIV.
  • When it comes to any form of risky behavior, remember to always protect yourself and others, especially if you know you are co-infected. 
  • If you use drugs, never share or re-use your equipment
  • Practice safer sex by using condoms, lube, dental dams, etc., p
  • Practice safe tattooing and piercing and never share razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers, or any other piece of equipment that may come into contact with contaminated blood.

 If you have any more questions or want to talk to someone at RHAC about co-infection, contact our Client Services teams!