HCV sexual transmission linked to anal sex, drug use, lower CD4 count

Published: March 31, 2015

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Liz Highleyman
Original Article:  bit.ly/1bOun6I

In addition to the usual risk factors for hepatitis C virus (HCV) sexual transmission seen in most previous studies – such as anal sex and having other sexually transmitted infections – researchers in the Netherlands also saw an association with nasal and injection drug use and lower CD4 cell count, they reported in a poster presentation at the recent Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2015) in Seattle, USA.

HCV, a blood-borne virus, historically has been most often transmitted via shared drug injection equipment or blood transfusions. But in the early 2000s, researchers in the UK and Europe began reporting outbreaks of apparently sexually transmitted acute HCV infection among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM); similar reports later followed in Australia and in US cities including New York and San Francisco.

Several risk factors have been associated with HCV sexual transmission – including anal intercourse, fisting, group sex, having other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and non-injection recreational drug use – but these have not been entirely consistent across studies. It is difficult to tease out risk factors because many gay men engage in multiple activities, often on the same occasion. Studies looking at the presence of HCV in semen have also been inconsistent.

Joost Vanhommerig from the Amsterdam Health Service and fellow investigators conducted the MOSAIC study to assess risk factors for acute HCV infection among HIV-positive gay and bi men.

MOSAIC is one of the first studies to look at both biological and behavioural determinants of acute HCV infection, the researchers noted as background. Most previous studies evaluating risk factors for recently acquired HCV infection were initially designed to study HIV, not hepatitis C.

Full text of article available at link below:  bit.ly/1bOun6I
 

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