Objective: The role of ribavirin (RBV) in the treatment of recent hepatitis C virus (HCV) (acute/early chronic) is unclear, particularly in HIV-infected individuals. This study evaluated early virological decline during recent HCV therapy in HIV-uninfected individuals receiving pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) monotherapy and HIV-infected individuals receiving PEG-IFN/RBV. Design: The Australian Trial in Acute Hepatitis C was a nonrandomized prospective study of patients with recent HCV. Methods: All participants received PEG-IFN (24 weeks); HCV/HIV participants also received RBV. Early HCV RNA decline was assessed among adherent participants (80% PEG-IFN, 80% treatment). Logistic regression identified predictors of rapid virological response (RVR) (<10IU/ml). Results: Of 109 treated, 82% were adherent (HCV, n=57; HCV/HIV, n=32). Overall, RVR was 51% (HCV: 55% vs. HCV/HIV: 43%; P=0.323). Factors independently associated with RVR included duration of infection less than 26 weeks, HCV RNA below 5.6 log10IU/ml at baseline and HCV genotype 2/3 infection. Between baseline and week 12, mean decline in HCV RNA was greater in HCV/HIV participants (PEG-IFN/RBV) compared to HCV participants (PEG-IFN) (4.19 vs. 3.32 log10IU/ml; P=0.029). Greater HCV RNA decline was observed in those treated with RBV, particularly amongst those with an estimated duration of infection at least 26 weeks and those with unfavourable IL28B genotypes. Adherent HIV-uninfected and infected participants had similar early virological response (76 vs. 90%; P=0.102) and sustained virological response (63 vs. 75%; P=0.253), respectively. RVR was highly predictive of sustained virological response (adjusted odds ratio 4.09; 1.49, 11.25). Conclusion: The results of this study suggest a potential benefit for PEG-IFN and RBV combination therapy in maximizing virological responses in HCV/HIV participants with recent HCV, particularly those with a longer duration of HCV infection and unfavourable IL28B genotypes.
- pegylated interferon