MSM are at increased risk for infection with HIV-1 and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Is HIV/HCV coinfection confined to specific HIV transmission networks?Design and methods:
A HIV phylogenetic tree was constructed for 5038 HIV-1 subtype B polymerase (pol) sequences obtained from MSM in the AIDS therapy evaluation in the Netherlands cohort. We investigated the existence of HIV clusters with increased HCV prevalence, the HIV phylogenetic density (i.e. the number of potential HIV transmission partners) of HIV/HCV-coinfected MSM compared with HIV-infected MSM without HCV, and the overlap in HIV and HCV phylogenies using HCV nonstructural protein 5B sequences from 183 HIV-infected MSM with acute HCV infection.Results:
Five hundred and sixty-three of 5038 (11.2%) HIV-infected MSM tested HCV positive. Phylogenetic analysis revealed 93 large HIV clusters (≥10 MSM), 370 small HIV clusters (2–9 MSM), and 867 singletons with a median HCV prevalence of 11.5, 11.6, and 9.3%, respectively. We identified six large HIV clusters with elevated HCV prevalence (range 23.5–46.2%). Median HIV phylogenetic densities for MSM with HCV (3, interquartile range 1–7) and without HCV (3, interquartile range 1–8) were similar. HCV phylogeny showed 12 MSM-specific HCV clusters (clustersize: 2–39 HCV sequences); 12.7% of HCV infections were part of the same HIV and HCV cluster.Conclusion:
We observed few HIV clusters with elevated HCV prevalence, no increase in the HIV phylogenetic density of HIV/HCV-coinfected MSM compared to HIV-infected MSM without HCV, and limited overlap between HIV and HCV phylogenies among HIV/HCV-coinfected MSM. Our data do not support the existence of MSM-specific sexual networks that fuel both the HIV and HCV epidemic.