Objective: Liver disease secondary to hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the context of HIV infection is one of the leading non-AIDS causes of death. Sexual transmission of HCV infection among HIV-positive MSM appears to be leading to increased reports of acute HCV infection. Reinfection after successful treatment or spontaneous clearance is reported among HIV-positive MSM but the scale of reinfection is unknown. We calculate and compare HCV reinfection rates among HIV-positive MSM after spontaneous clearance and successful medical treatment of infection.
Design: Retrospective analysis of HIV-positive MSM with sexually acquired HCV who subsequently spontaneously cleared or underwent successful HCV treatment between 2004 and 2012.
Results: Among 191 individuals infected with HCV, 44 were reinfected over 562 person-years (py) of follow-up with an overall reinfection rate of 7.8/100 py [95% confidence interval (CI) 5.8–10.5]. Eight individuals were subsequently reinfected a second time at a rate of 15.5/100 py (95% CI 7.7–31.0). Combining all reinfections, 20% resulted in spontaneous clearance and treatment sustained viral response rates were 73% (16/22) for genotypes one and four and 100% (2/2) for genotypes two and three. Among 145 individuals with a documented primary infection, the reinfection rate was 8.0 per 100 py (95% CI 5.7–11.3) overall, 9.6/100 py (95% CI 6.6–14.1) among those successfully treated and 4.2/100 py (95% CI 1.7–10.0) among those who spontaneously cleared. The secondary reinfection rate was 23.2/100 py (95% CI 11.6–46.4).
Conclusion: Despite efforts at reducing risk behaviour, HIV-positive MSM who clear HCV infection remain at high risk of reinfection. This emphasizes the need for increased sexual education, surveillance and preventive intervention work.