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Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2019 Feb;32(1):31-37. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0000000000000515.

Sexually transmitted hepatitis C infection: the evolving epidemic in HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM.

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St Vincent's Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine.
Department of Gastroenterology, St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, Kirby Institute, UNSW.



The scale-up of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy and introduction of preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) has changed the epidemiology of sexually acquired hepatitis C virus (HCV) amongst HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM.


Sexually acquired HCV continues to occur predominantly amongst HIV-positive MSM. Despite an increased uptake of DAA therapy the incidence of acute HCV has not declined consistently amongst HIV-positive MSM, likely a result of high infection and reinfection rates. Increasing cases of sexually acquired HCV have been reported amongst HIV-negative MSM accessing PrEP. Despite a lower prevalence of HCV at baseline, HIV-negative MSM accessing PrEP have an equally high overall incidence of HCV compared with HIV-positive MSM during follow-up. Behavioural factors (high-risk sexual behaviours and sexualized drug use) appear to be driving this HCV epidemic amongst MSM and effective behavioural interventions and early identification of reinfections are essential to control the HCV epidemic amongst MSM.


An improved understanding of the epidemiology of sexually acquired HCV will allow implementation of more effective public health interventions to control the transmission of HCV amongst HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM.

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