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J Med Virol. 2016 Nov;88(11):1960-6. doi: 10.1002/jmv.24474. Epub 2016 Jul 27.

Prevalence of occult hepatitis C virus infection in the Iranian patients with human immunodeficiency virus infection.

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Department of Virology, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
HIV Laboratory of National Center, Deputy of Health, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Genetic, Islamic Azad University, Varamin Pishva Branch, Tehran, Iran.
Department of Biology, Islamic Azad University, Varamin Pishva Branch, Tehran, Iran.
Faculty of Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Payame Noor University, Karaj, Iran.


Occult hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a new form of chronic HCV infection described by the presence of the genomic HCV-RNA in liver biopsy and/or peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) samples, and undetectable levels or absence of HCV-RNA and in the absence or presence of anti HCV antibodies in the plasma specimens. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the occurrence of occult HCV infection (OCI) among Iranian subjects infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) using RT-nested PCR. From March 2014 until April 2015, 109 Iranian patients with established HIV infection were enrolled in this cross-sectional study. After extraction of viral RNA from the plasma and PBMC samples, HCV-RNA status was examined by RT-nested PCR using primers from the 5'-NTR. HCV genotyping was conducted using RFLP analysis. For the confirmation of HCV genotyping by RFLP method, the PCR products were sequenced. Of the 109 patients, 50 were positive for antibodies against HCV. The HCV-RNA was detected in PBMC specimens in 6 (10.2%) out of the total 59 patients negative for anti-HCV Abs and undetectable plasma HCV-RNA and also from 4 (8.0%) out of the total 50 patients positive for anti-HCV Abs and undetectable plasma HCV-RNA. HCV genotyping analysis showed that 6 (60.0%) patients were infected with HCV subtype 3a, 3 (30.0%) were infected with HCV subtype 1a and 1 (10.0%) patient was infected with HCV subtype 1b. This study revealed the incidence of OCI (9.2%) in HIV-infected Iranian patients. Hence, designing prospective studies focusing on the detection of OCI in these patients would provide more information. J. Med. Virol. 88:1960-1966, 2016.


hepatitis C virus; human immunodeficiency virus; occult HCV infection; peripheral blood mononuclear cells

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