Diversity of hepatitis C virus infection among HIV-infected people who inject drugs in India

Virusdisease. 2019 Dec;30(4):490-497. doi: 10.1007/s13337-019-00553-2. Epub 2019 Dec 7.


The availability of generic direct acting antivirals (DAAs) for hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment has prompted many low-and-middle-income countries to launch HCV elimination programs. Because the efficacy of some of these generic DAAs varies by HCV viral subtype, information on subtype distribution can contribute important information to these elimination programs. We conducted a cross-sectional serosurvey to characterize HCV subtype diversity among HIV positive people who inject drugs (PWID) across 14 cities in India. Of 801 HIV positive PWID sampled, 639 tested HCV antibody positive (78.9%). Among 105 samples sequenced, genotype 3 (58.1%) was the most commonly observed followed by genotype 1 (36.2%) and genotype 6 (5.7%). Of the genotype 3 infections, 65% were subtype 3a and 35% were subtype 3b. Of the genotype 1 infections, 94% were subtype 1a and 6% were subtype 1b. All genotype 6 samples were subtype 6n. There was some variability in genotype diversity depending on geographic region and PWID epidemic stage with greater diversity observed in older PWID epidemics. One sequence, HY018, did not cluster with any known reference sequences in phylogenetic analysis. Nearly 80% of HIV infected PWID across India are co-infected with HCV, and subtype prevalence and genetic diversity varied by region and PWID epidemic stage. HCV elimination programs in India will need to consider HCV subtype.

Keywords: Genotype; Hepatitis C virus; India; Low-and-middle-income country; People who inject drugs.