People with another form of hepatitis, HIV, hemophilia, kidney disease, and diabetes have a higher rate of infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) than the general population. Some conditions share a common transmission route with HCV, such as other viruses, hepatitis B, and HIV. In addition, HCV can be acquired as the result of a blood transfusion or organ transplant given to treat a disease like hemophilia or kidney disease.
In some cases, the increased rate of HCV is unexplained. A recent study suggested that diabetics, too, have a higher prevalence of HCV infection than the general population, though researchers remain unsure why.
The course of hepatitis C -- and its treatment -- may change when it co-exists with other medical conditions. Likewise, the disease course and treatment plan of the concurrent medical condition can be affected. Although research is ongoing, some of the current information on HCV and co-existing conditions appears below.
HCV and Other Types of Hepatitis
It is not infrequent for people with HCV to be additionally infected with another hepatitis virus. It has been noted by some researchers that liver failure and even death can occur in people with chronic hepatitis C who become infected with the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HCV and HBV have shared modes of transmission. Approximately 10% of people with HCV are thought to be co-infected with hepatitis B. Some studies have found that people infected with both HCV and HBV have a very aggressive course of disease and are at increased risk of developing cirrhosis and liver failure. Therefore, everyone with HCV who has not been exposed to HAV or HBV is urged to obtain the vaccinations against these other hepatitis viruses.
HCV has also been linked to autoimmune hepatitis. Autoimmune hepatitis is a condition in which a person's immune system harms the cells of the liver, mistaking them for foreign bodies.
Autoimmune hepatitis is associated with other autoimmune disorders, among them diabetes. Researchers are examining these associations to try to understand why people with diabetes, on average, also exhibit a high rate of HCV infection.