Intrafamilial transmission of hepatitis C virus in patients with hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus coinfection

Daniela R Keiserman, Cristiane T Both, Angelo A Mattos, Jose Remiao, Claudio O P Alexandre, Kenneth E Sherman
American Journal of Gastroenterology 2003, 98 (4): 878-83

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine whether hepatitis C virus (HCV)/HIV coinfection of index cases increases intrafamilial transmission (sexual and nonsexual contacts) of HCV.

METHODS: We prospectively enrolled 347 subjects, including 87 family members of 53 HCV/HIV-coinfected index cases and 134 family members of 73 HCV-monoinfected index cases, which served as a control group. All index cases and family members were interviewed, and a screening for HCV and HIV using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays was performed. Positive samples were confirmed by polymerase chain reaction and tested for genotype and HCV RNA viral load. A meta-analysis designed to assess the pooled risk of sexual transmission of HCV among HCV/HIV-coinfected patients was performed.

RESULTS: Anti-HCV was detected in 2.2% of family members of HCV-monoinfected index cases and 2.3% of family members of HCV/HIV-coinfected index cases. Viral load was higher in coinfected index cases (7.2 x 10(6) mEq/ml) compared with HCV alone (1.9 x 10(6) mEq/ml), p = 0.01. HCV genotype concordance was observed in three family members of HCV-monoinfected index cases and in two family members of HCV/HIV-coinfected index cases. The pooled OR of the meta-analysis evaluating HIV as a cofactor of sexual transmission of HCV was 1.54 (95% CI = 0.76-3.12).

CONCLUSIONS: Our data demonstrate a low prevalence of intrafamilial transmission of HCV, independent of the presence of HCV/HIV coinfection. This finding is supported by meta-analysis, which failed to identify HIV as an important cofactor of sexual transmission in HCV/HIV-coinfected patients.

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