Increasing evidence suggests that hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmits sexually among HIV-negative men who have sex with men, and not just among HIV-positive MSM. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Viral Hepatitis, researchers conducted a retrospective study in which they identified 44 HIV-negative MSM with acute hep C at a large, urban British sexual health clinic between January 2010 and May 2014.
Forty-one (93 percent) of the men reported recent condomless anal intercourse, with 36 of them (88 percent) reporting both insertive and receptive intercourse, 4 (10 percent) reporting only receptive intercourse, and 1 (2.4 percent) only insertive intercourse. The men reported an average of 7.3 partners, with a range of one to 100 and a median of two. Twelve (27 percent) of the men said they had had group sex, and 11 (25 percent) reported engaging in fisting.
Eleven participants (25 percent) said they had used drugs during sex, with 16 (36 percent) reporting snorting drugs and 9 (21 percent) saying they had injected drugs. It is noteworthy that only about one in five of the men said they had injected drugs, because that is the main alternative way they might have contracted hep C.
Twenty-nine (66 percent) of the men said they were aware of a sexual partner’s HIV or hep C status, with two (4.5 percent) saying they’d had sex with someone they knew had HCV, 13 (30 percent) reporting sex with an HIV-positive partner, six (14 percent) reporting sex with one or more men coinfected with HIV and HCV, and nine (21 percent) saying they had had sex with a partner or partners who they believed were not infected with either virus.
Fifteen (34 percent) of the men’s hep C spontaneously cleared.
To read a HepMag.com feature on sexual transmission of HCV among HIV-positive MSM, click here.
To read the study abstract, click here.
To read text from a presentation of the study and also see related slides, click here.