Fatty liver is among the most frequent causes of liver disease in Canada and in Western countries and is one of the main indications for liver transplant. For some time, researchers have suspected that people living with HIV could be at higher risk of developing liver disease, which, as a result of longer life expectancy thanks to antiretroviral therapy, has become the major cause of their mortality in North America.
Due to the invasiveness of liver biopsy, the traditional method of diagnosing fatty liver, quality data about the true prevalence and incidence of fatty liver in this population have been scarce to this point. Now, a recent study led by researchers at McGill University’s Faculty of Medicine published in the October issue of the Journal of Hepatology reports on the results of the first large-scale study which shows that people living with HIV are indeed at high risk of developing fatty liver, even in the absence of hepatitis-C co-infection, which has been typically associated with liver disease.
“Hepatic steatosis progresses faster in HIV mono-infected than HIV/HCV co-infected patients and is associated with liver fibrosis,” Thomas Pembroke, et al, Journal of Hepatology, October 2017. DOI:10.1016/j.jhep.2017.05.011