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Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Apr;12(4):218-30. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2015.36. Epub 2015 Mar 17.

Mixed HCV infection and reinfection in people who inject drugs--impact on therapy.

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The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
Inflammation and Infection Research Centre, School of Medical Sciences, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.


The majority of new and existing cases of HCV infection in high-income countries occur among people who inject drugs (PWID). Ongoing high-risk behaviours can lead to HCV re-exposure, resulting in mixed HCV infection and reinfection. Assays used to screen for mixed infection vary widely in sensitivity, particularly with respect to their capacity for detecting minor variants (<20% of the viral population). The prevalence of mixed infection among PWID ranges from 14% to 39% when sensitive assays are used. Mixed infection compromises HCV treatment outcomes with interferon-based regimens. HCV reinfection can also occur after successful interferon-based treatment among PWID, but the rate of reinfection is low (0-5 cases per 100 person-years). A revolution in HCV therapeutic development has occurred in the past few years, with the advent of interferon-free, but still genotype-specific regiments based on direct acting antiviral agents. However, little is known about whether mixed infection and reinfection has an effect on HCV treatment outcomes in the setting of new direct-acting antiviral agents. This Review characterizes the epidemiology and natural history of mixed infection and reinfection among PWID, methodologies for detection, the potential implications for HCV treatment and considerations for the design of future studies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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