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PLoS One. 2018 Jan 25;13(1):e0191798. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0191798. eCollection 2018.

Hepatitis E prevalence in a sexual high-risk population compared to the general population.

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Department of Sexual Health, Infectious Diseases and Environmental Health, Public Health Service (GGD) South Limburg, Geleen, the Netherlands.
Department of Medical Microbiology, Care and Public Health Research Institute (CAPHRI), Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC+), Maastricht, the Netherlands.
Department of Family Medicine, Care and Public Health Research Institute (CAPHRI), Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands.


Transmission routes of the hepatitis E virus (HEV) are under debate. Here, we studied possible sexual transmission by comparing HEV prevalence in a Dutch sexual high-risk population (n = 1,482) with that in a general population (n = 1,487) while assessing sociodemographic and sexual risk factors. Overall prevalence of anti-HEV IgG of 18.9% (n = 562) was, adjusting for confounders, similar between the two populations (p = 0.44). Prevalence was higher with each year's increase in age (adjusted OR: 1.03, 95%CI: 1.02-1.04, p<0.01), among men (adjusted OR: 1.24, 95%CI: 1.02-1.50, p = 0.03) and among individuals diagnosed with sexually transmitted infections (adjusted OR: 1.60, 95%CI: 1.02-2.49, p = 0.04). Our results only hint at the possibility of a sexual transmission route for HEV given higher rates in those with chlamydia and/or gonorrheal infections. Sexual transmission is not a dominant transmission route, as its prevalence was not higher for the sexual high-risk population than for the general population.

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