Acute hepatitis C in HIV-infected men who have sex with men: an emerging sexually transmitted infection
Since 2000 outbreaks of acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) among HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) who denied injecting drug use have been reported from Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. Given the burden of liver disease, in particular HCV, on the morbidity and mortality in HIV patients in the era of combination antiretroviral therapy, the rapid and significant rise in the incidence of HCV in the HIV-infected MSM population in high-income countries is alarming. This relates to a significant change in the epidemiology of HCV that has occurred, with HCV emerging as a sexually transmitted infection within this population. Work to date suggests that this permucosal HCV transmission results from high-risk sexual and noninjecting drug use behaviours, reopening the discussion on the importance of sexual transmission. Given this occurs almost exclusively in HIV-infected MSM, HIV probably has a critical role mediated either through behavioural and/or biological factors. Finally, the management of acute HCV in HIV infection is complicated by concomitant HIV infection and combination antiretroviral therapy. This review will synthesize the most recent epidemiological, immunological and management issues that have emerged as a result of the epidemic of acute HCV among HIV-infected MSM.