Incidence of acute hepatitis C virus infection among men who have sex with men with and without HIV infection: a systematic review

Sean Yaphe, Nikki Bozinoff, Rachel Kyle, Sushmita Shivkumar, Nitika Pant Pai, Marina Klein
Sexually Transmitted Infections 2012, 88 (7): 558-64

BACKGROUND: A recent increase in reports of acute hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected men who have sex with men (MSM), with the sole risk factor being sexual exposure, has led to routine screening and targeted prevention requests for this population; current evidence for this necessity is unclear.

OBJECTIVE: A systematic review was conducted to assess the incidence of HCV infection among studies conducted in HIV-positive and/or HIV-negative MSM to explore the implications for routine HCV screening.

DATA SOURCES: The MEDLINE, EMBASE and BIOSYS databases were searched for the period January 2000 to May 2012, yielding 21 studies. Six conferences were hand-searched for the same period yielding four abstracts.

STUDY SELECTION: Only studies in English presenting incidence rates of HCV and specifying HIV status were included.

DATA ABSTRACTION: Data were abstracted by two authors using predefined data fields. The STROBE checklist was used to assess study quality.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Data were divided into HIV-negative MSM and HIV-positive MSM subgroups, and HCV incidence density measurements were pooled. Using a DerSimonian-Laird random effects model, pooled incidence was 1.48/1000 person-years (95% CI 0.75 to 2.21) for the HIV-negative MSM subgroup. The HIV-positive MSM subgroup was at 4.1 times higher risk of acquiring HCV at 6.08/1000 person-years (95% CI 5.18 to 6.99). Studies directly comparing subgroups estimated a pooled risk difference of 3.45/1000 person-years (95% CI 1.63 to 5.27).

CONCLUSION: HIV-positive MSM were at higher risk for acute HCV infection than HIV-negative MSM, substantiating the need for routine screening initiatives. Insufficient evidence exists to warrant routine screening of HIV-negative MSM, except on a case-by-case basis, such as high-risk sexual behaviour.

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