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AIDS Care. 2014 Apr;26(4):416-24. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2013.832721. Epub 2013 Sep 11.

High awareness of hepatitis C virus (HCV) but limited knowledge of HCV complications among HIV-positive and HIV-negative men who have sex with men.

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a Cluster of Infectious Diseases, Department of Research , Public Health Service of Amsterdam , Amsterdam , The Netherlands.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has emerged as a sexually transmitted infection among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) in high-income countries. Little is reported about HCV awareness among MSM, although this is essential for developing targeted prevention strategies. We, therefore, studied HCV awareness and knowledge among HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM from the Amsterdam Cohort Studies (ACS). During two visits, 1 year apart and starting in October 2007, MSM from the ACS answered questions regarding HCV awareness, knowledge of HCV transmission (7 items), complications (8 items) and sexual risk behaviour. We examined the percentage of HCV awareness and correctly answered knowledge items, and whether awareness and knowledge improved significantly over time. Using logistic regression, we studied whether HIV status and sexual risk behaviour were associated with awareness. Seventy percent (312/444) of HIV-negative and 80% (74/92) of HIV-positive MSM reported to have ever heard of HCV on the first visit. Overall, awareness increased with 9% between the first and second visit (p < 0.001). In multivariate analysis the association of group sex with HCV awareness was borderline significant (OR 1.49, 95% CI 0.97-2.30). Compared with knowledge of transmission routes, knowledge of complications appeared to be limited. In the ACS, awareness of HCV is high, particularly among those reporting group sex, an important risk factor for HCV transmission. The majority of participants had good knowledge of transmission routes, but limited knowledge of complications of chronic HCV infection. HCV prevention messages could be strengthened, therefore, by further addressing the complications of HCV infection.

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