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Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Aug 1;41(3):395-402. Epub 2005 Jun 21.

Unsafe sex and increased incidence of hepatitis C virus infection among HIV-infected men who have sex with men: the Swiss HIV Cohort Study.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, University Hospital Berne, Switzerland.



Data on the incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected persons are sparse. It is controversial whether and how frequently HCV is transmitted by unprotected sexual intercourse.


We assessed the HCV seroprevalence and incidence of HCV infection in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study between 1988 and 2004. We investigated the association of HCV seroconversion with mode of HIV acquisition, sex, injection drug use (IDU), and constancy of condom use. Data on condom use or unsafe sexual behavior were prospectively collected between 2000 and 2004.


The overall seroprevalence of HCV infection was 33% among a total of 7899 eligible participants and 90% among persons reporting IDU. We observed 104 HCV seroconversions among 3327 participants during a total follow-up time of 16,305 person-years, corresponding to an incidence of 0.64 cases per 100 person-years. The incidence among participants with a history of IDU was 7.4 cases per 100 person-years, compared with 0.23 cases per 100 person-years in patients without such a history (P<.001). In men who had sex with men (MSM) without a history of IDU who reported unsafe sex, the incidence was 0.7 cases per 100 person-years, compared with 0.2 cases per 100 person-years in those not reporting unsafe sex (P=.02), corresponding to an incidence rate ratio of 3.5 (95% confidence interval, 1.2-10.0). The hazard of acquiring HCV infection was elevated among younger participants who were MSM.


HCV infection incidence in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study was mainly associated with IDU. In HIV-infected MSM, HCV infection was associated with unsafe sex.

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