Increased HCV in HIV-Positive MSM
Disturbing increases in the number of Hepatitis C infections among certain groups have researchers scrambling to find an effective means of combating it. The virus that causes Hepatitis C (HCV) is blood borne, making injectable drug use a common way to contract the infection. The latest trend, though, is not among people who inject drugs. It is among men who have sex with men (MSM) and are HIV positive. Just why this is happening and how to curb the upward swing in HCV numbers is what researchers are looking into controlling HIV.
Of course, people who inject drugs are certainly at risk for infection, so for the studies that had been performed on this topic, only those who did not abuse injectable drugs were followed so as not to skew the results. Unfortunately, throughout the last decade or so, the number of HIV-infected MSM who have contracted HCV had steadily increased. The problem is that, in recent years, those numbers have increased at a more rapid pace than had been previously predicted.
One risk factor has to do with those who abuses non-injectable drugs. Such drugs as methamphetamine also increased the risk for HCV infection nearly 29 fold. During the studies, a number of participants had repeat HCV infections. These individuals are 20 times more likely to be re-infected. They would contract the virus, seek out treatment, but then contract the disease once again. Not surprising then, high-risk sex behavior and drug abuse saw the highest increases when it came to Hepatitis C.
Projected numbers are not promising for the future either. Currently, out of 1,000 HIV-positive MSM about 20 will present with a Hepatitis C infection over the course of one year. The number of new HCV infection cases is only going to increase. Many believe that this is in part due to lack of education and prevention programs. Just what needs to be taught and which types of programs would prove effective remains to be seen. Education about safe sex practices and drug abuse are being developed to target this growing population. Further study on the matter is underway for controlling HIV.