February 7, 2011 — Even with conscientious care and state-of-the-art medication, HIV-infected men are at risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroconversion and should have access to ongoing HCV surveillance, the authors of a new study say. Their findings were published online January 31 and appear in the February print issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
HCV has become "a leading cause of non-AIDS related morbidity and mortality for HIV-infected persons in the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) era," lead author Lynn E. Taylor, MD, from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and coauthors write. They estimate that up to 30% of HIV-infected people in the United States are coinfected with HCV.
At this time, the US Public Health Service recommends testing for HCV when a patient is initially diagnosed with HIV infection, but not thereafter. However, reports are now surfacing of acute HCV outbreaks in Europe, Australia, New York, and California among HIV-infected men who have sex with other HIV-infected men and engage in potentially traumatic practices such as unprotected anal sex, use of sex toys, multiple partners, and manual insertion, which may involve some exchange of blood. Because HCV treatment is most effective during the acute stages of infection, "it is vital to diagnose incident HCV infection in HIV-infected persons," the authors say.
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