Coffee Reduces Mortality Risks for Patients with HIV-HCV Co-Infection

Drinking coffee may have more profound survival benefits for patients with HIV and hepatitis C than for the general population.

Patients with HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are at an increased risk of liver disease, heart disease, cancer, and other conditions. These factors amplify mortality risks for patients with a co-infection, especially since HIV accelerates HCV progression.

Novel findings from a study published by the Journal of Hepatology suggest that drinking coffee and not smoking may reduce mortality risks among patients with a co-infection.

In patients with co-infections, drinking 3 or more cups of coffee per day was found to reduce the risk of all-cause mortality by 50%, according to the study. This was the first study to explore the link between coffee and mortality among patients with an HIV-HCV co-infection.

“This is a very exciting time for HCV research as a cure that can eradicate the virus is now available for all patients," said lead investigator Dominique Salmon-Céron, MD, PhD. "However, even when cured of HCV, patients co-infected with HIV have a higher risk of death with respect to the general population, due to an accelerated aging process that may result from cancer, complications related to diabetes and to liver disease, and from cardiovascular events."

Coffee has been found to protect against inflammation and liver damage. Previous studies have shown that 3 or more cups of coffee per day reduces the risk of all-cause mortality by 14% in the general population.

Included in the new study were medical and psychosocial data from questionnaires for 1028 patients with HIV-HCV. At baseline, 1 in 4 patients reported drinking 3 or more cups of coffee per day.

Over the 5-year follow-up period, 77 deaths occurred, with more than 50% resulting from HCV. The authors found that the mortality risk was 80% lower among patients who were cured of HCV.

The investigators discovered that drinking at least 3 cups of coffee per day was linked to a 50% reduction in mortality risk even after accounting for other factors, according to the study.

"The results of our study show that while curing HCV is fundamental, it must be complemented by behavioral changes if we are to improve health and survival in HIV-infected patients whether or not they cleared HCV,” said first author Maria Patrizia Carrieri, PhD.

After achieving HCV clearance, the authors urge patients to adopt healthy behavior changes, such as increasing exercise and smoking cessation, to prevent other threats to mortality.

These results may promote behaviors, such as drinking coffee and not smoking, which could improve survival for patients with an HIV-HCV co-infection, according to the study. The authors also said that patients may benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of decaffeinated coffee.

“We also suggest that those patients who cannot tolerate a high intake of caffeine should consider drinking a few cups of decaffeinated coffee a day," Dr Salmon-Céron said. "Accordingly, I believe that the benefits of coffee extracts and supplementing dietary intake with other anti-inflammatory compounds need to be evaluated in HIV-HCV patients."