Background & Objective: Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) infection may be common in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV-1) patients and may lead to chronic infection as well as cirrhosis. We intended to determine the incidence of HEV infection among HIV-1 patients in comparison to individuals without HIV-1 infection.
Methods: In our cross-sectional study, 87 HIV-1-positive patients were compared to 93 healthy individuals in Kerman, Iran. Plasma and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) were obtained from all participants. Plasmas were evaluated for HEV IgM and IgG using the ELISA kit. Then, reverse transcriptase-nested polymerase chain reaction (RT-nested PCR) was used in RNA extractions from PBMCs to check for the presence of HEV RNA.
Results: Among the subjects examined in our study, 61 (70.1%) and 71 (77.4%) out of patients with HIV-1 infection and healthy individuals were male, respectively. The average ages of patients with HIV-1 and the control group were 40.2 years and 39.9 years, respectively. No discernible differences existed between the two groups based on IgM and IgG seropositivity against the HEV. However, HEV-RNA was found in 8% of patients with HIV-1 and 1.1% of HIV-1-negative individuals (P=0.03). There was also an association between the HEV genome and anti-HEV and anti-HCV antibodies in HIV-1-positive patients (P=0.02 and P=0.014, respectively).
Conclusion: HEV infection was more common in HIV-1 patients and may develop a chronic infection in immunocompromised individuals. Here, we suggest molecular-based HEV diagnostic tests, including RT-PCR assays, should be performed in HIV-1 patients with unknown impaired liver function tests.