One of the most common bugs affecting people with HIV can be a real drag
Fatigue is one of the characteristic symptoms of viral hepatitis, a
disease that is no minor matter to people with HIV: As many as 30% of
HIV positive people also have chronic hep C, known as coinfection
(about 10% have hep B). Among certain groups, such as injection drug
users, the coinfection rate can be as high as 90%.
Ironically, getting treatment for hepatitis can also bring on extreme
tiredness. People taking the drugs that treat it—interferon and
ribavarin—are at risk for developing depression and/or anemia, both of
which, can cause fatigue.
So what’s the best way out of this treatment catch-22? Your doc can
lower your interferon or ribavirin doses, but doing so lowers your
chances of being cured. A better way is to take antidepressants along
with interferon or ribavirin (see “Beating the Blues”) or even before
you start. If your hep treatment is causing anemia, a drug called
Procrit can boost your red blood cells (see “Acing Anemia”).
If you’re not sure you have been tested for hep C, see your doctor:
Every person with HIV should get tested for this debilitating bug—if
it’s not treated hep C can cause serious damage to your liver and even
cause liver failure. And if you’ve been treated for hep C and
successfully “cleared” the virus, don’t forget: You can get it again.
(Injection drug use is the most common way.) For more info on hep C,
check out these sites: www.natap.org and www.hepcadvocacy.org.