CDC: Test HIV-infected men for hepatitis C

July 21, 2011 at 10:31 PM
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ATLANTA, July 21 (UPI) -- Testing all HIV-infected men having sex with men for hepatitis C is critical, especially for men engaging in high-risk behavior, U.S. health officials advise.

Clinicians should remind patients that unprotected sex between HIV-infected partners can transmit other infections, including hepatitis C, a report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says.

Hepatitis transmission primarily occurs through exposure to blood via needle-sticks or catheter procedures but people who inject drugs are at greatest risk.

After observing a large increase in the number of new cases of hepatitis C transmission among HIV-infected men having sex with men, investigators at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, along with CDC, examined the role of sexual transmission among these men, who had no other risk factors for hepatitis C infection, including injection drug use.

"The study found men co-infected with HIV and hepatitis C were significantly more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and non-injection drug use during sex," the report says. "In addition, hepatitis C genetic analysis suggested that hepatitis was transmitted within social networks of these men and infection with HIV may lead to an increased likelihood of sexual transmission of hepatitis C and accelerate HCV disease progression."

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