Monday, July 11, 2016

CATIE News: Marijuana use not linked to liver injury in women with both HIV and hepatitis C

Over the course of 11 years of follow up, marijuana use was found not to be link to increased risk of liver injury in women with both HIV and hepatitis C, reported researchers in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Participants were from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), an American study about how HIV impacts women. WIHS participants undergo regular interviews, physical exams and blood draws. For this study, researchers measured liver injury using the FIB-4 test, which uses results from blood tests and a person’s age to calculate an injury score.

Over the course of the study 51% of participants developed a significant degree of liver injury (F3 or F4). Alcohol use, a higher FIB-4 score at study entry and a low CD4 count at study entry were associated with worsening liver injury.

According to the researchers, “We found no evidence that [marijuana] use increases the risk of [worsening] liver fibrosis in women with HIV-HCV co-infection.” (, June 2016, in English and French)

Hep C associated with increased risk of head and neck cancers

Hep C is associated with an almost three-fold increase in head and neck cancers, reported researchers in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The risk of cancer was especially high for people who also had human papillomavirus (HPV).

This study looked back in time at two groups, the first group included 409 people who developed head and neck cancers and the second group (control group) included 694 people who didn’t develop these cancers. The people had all attended a U.S. cancer clinic and received a Hep C test between 2004 and 2014.

Overall, 11% of participants had Hep C antibodies. Hep C was more common in people with cancer in the part of the throat behind the mouth (oropharyngeal cancer) (14%) and people with oropharyngeal cancers related to HPV (17%) compared to the group without these cancers.  Hep C was associated with a more than 2-fold increase in oropharyngeal cancers.

Hep C was also more common in participants with cancer of the mouth, the throat connecting to the nasal cavity and the lower throat (non-oropharyngeal) (20%) than in the control group (6.5%). Hep C was associated with an almost 3-fold increase in non-oropharyngeal cancers.

The researchers called for further research to examine the association between Hep C and head and neck cancers. (, June 2016, in English)

Zepatier superior to sofosbuvir, peg-interferon and ribavirin

The Hep C medication Zepatier was found to be superior to the combination of sofosbuvir, peg-interferon and ribavirin in a head-to-head trial (cure rate of 99.2% vs. 90.5%), reported researchers at the EASL International Liver Congress.

Zepatier is a combination of two direct-acting anti-viral medications (DAAs), grazoprevir and elbasvir.

Sofosbuvir is a DAA that is taken in combination with other medications, in this case peg-interferon and ribavirin.

Of the 255 participants, over half were women, the average age was 48 years and almost all were white.

Participants received treatment for 12 weeks. Participants taking Zepatier were significantly less likely to experience any serious side effect than people taking sofosbuvir, peg-interferon and ribavirin (54% vs. 93%)

The researchers concluded that Zepatier has superior efficacy and safety compared to sofosbuvir, peg-interferon and ribavirin for the treatment of people with HCV genotype 1 or 4 virus. (, May 2016, in English)

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