Objective: The epidemiology of the incidence of sexually transmitted hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) is only partially understood. In the presence of HIV, HCV infection is more likely to become chronic and liver fibrosis progression is accelerated.
Design: A systematic review and meta-analysis was used to synthesize data characterizing sexually transmitted HCV in HIV-positive MSM.
Methods: Electronic and other searches of medical literature (including unpublished reports) were conducted. Eligible studies reported on HCV seroconversion or on reinfection postsuccessful HCV treatment in HIV-positive MSM who were not injecting drugs. Pooled incidence rates were calculated using random-effects meta-analysis, and meta-regression was used to assess study-level moderators. Attributable risk measures were calculated from statistically significant associations between exposures and HCV seroconversion.
Results: More than 13 000 HIV-positive MSM in 17 studies were followed for more than 91 000 person-years between 1984 and 2012; the pooled seroconversion rate was 0.53/100 person-years. Calendar time was a significant moderator of HCV seroconversion, increasing from an estimated rate of 0.42/100 person-years in 1991 to 1.09/100 person-years in 2010, and 1.34/100 person-years in 2012. Reinfection postsuccessful HCV treatment (n = 2 studies) was 20 times higher than initial seroconversion rates. Among the seroconverters, a large proportion of infections were attributable to high-risk behaviours including mucosally traumatic sex and sex while high on methamphetamine.
Conclusion: The high reinfection rates and the attributable risk analysis suggest the existence of a subset of HIV-positive MSM with recurring sexual exposure to HCV. Approaches to HCV control in this population will need to consider the changing epidemiology of HCV infection in MSM.