August 7, 2013

Community study finds no evidence of widespread HCV epidemic among HIV-negative gay men in London

Prevalence in HIV-negative men similar to the general population; HCV predominantly diagnosed in HIV-positive gay men.

blogger_HCVApproximately 1% of HIV-negative gay men in London had antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 2008, results of a community survey published in HIV Medicine show. The study’s findings support those of clinic-based research which found no evidence of an HCV epidemic among HIV-negative gay men.

“Prevalence in HIV-negative MSM [men who have sex with men] was not significantly higher than in the general population,” comment the authors.

However, 8% of HIV-positive gay men had antibodies to HCV, further evidence of the ongoing epidemic of the infection in this population. Prevalence of HCV was higher among men reporting unprotected sex with a casual partner and in those with a history of syphilis.

According to the recently published Public Health England report Hepatitis C in the UK, enhanced surveillance of new hepatitis C infections in men who have sex with men shows that incidence of hepatitis C in HIV-positive men has declined significantly since 2008, to 2.2 new infections per thousand person years of follow-up in 2012.

Since new diagnoses of HCV infection have been very heavily concentrated in HIV-positive gay men it is unlikely that prevalence among HIV-negative gay men has increased substantially since 2008.

The investigators believe their findings support “risk-based” HCV testing for HIV-negative gay men.

HCV is a blood-borne virus and most cases in the UK involve individuals with a history of injecting drug use.

However, since 2000 there has been an epidemic of sexually transmitted HCV among HIV-positive gay men.


Full Story - aidsmap