A wide-ranging report by UNSW’s Centre for Social Research in Health
shows hepatitis C knowledge in young people and gay men is dangerously
Findings from the Annual Report of Trends in
Behaviour (ARTB 2014) show that NSW young people who use drugs, or are
exposed to injecting drugs, do not have enough knowledge of hepatitis C
to protect themselves against the disease.
The results of the online survey of 757 young people across NSW aged
16–26 show that 40% of respondents reported illicit drug use in the
previous 12 months and a small proportion of respondents reported use of
drugs that could be injected, such as cocaine (8%), methamphetamine
(6%), heroin (0.4%), and other opioids (1%).
Though Canadian data scarce, US study suggests hepatitis C on rise among gay men
By the time Cheryl Reitz got the letter in the mail, it was already too late.
It was 1992 and she had just donated blood for the second time.
Canada had just begun ramping up efforts to screen blood donations for
hepatitis C, back then a rarely discussed disease.
“It was when people got sick that they decided to go back and check,”
says Reitz, whose results came back positive. For all she knew, between
her first donation in 1990 and 1992, Reitz may have infected others
with the blood-borne viral liver disease that, today in Ontario, kills
nearly three times as many people annually as HIV.
men who have sex with men (MSM) run a 4 times higher risk of acute
hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection than HIV-negative MSM, according to
results of a meta-analysis. The findings have implications for routine
HCV screening in MSM.
reports of acute HCV infection in HIV-positive and negative MSM with
sexual exposure as their only risk factor prompted calls for routine HCV
screening of MSM and targeted prevention efforts. To determine whether
such recommendations are warranted, researchers conducted a systematic
review and meta-analysis of HCV incidence studies in MSM.
Doctors in Europe and the US have conflicting opinions about the pace of liver fibrosis in HIV-positive men with hepatitis C infection. In a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, European investigators showed that the pace of liver fibrosis slowed after the acute phase of infection. However, doctors from the US have published contrasting findings, showing that fibrosis continued to worsen with longer duration of co-infection.
The discrepancy between the studies could be a result of the methods used to evaluate liver fibrosis. The European investigators used Fibroscan, evaluating liver stiffness, whereas patients in the US study were monitored using liver biopsies.
The risk of death due to liver disease is twice as high for patients with chronic hepatitis B infection compared to individuals with chronic hepatitis C, US researchers report in the online edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases.
The study involved gay and other men who have sex with men, most of whom were HIV positive. Hepatitis B remained associated with a two-fold increase in the risk of liver-related death when analysis was restricted to HIV-positive individuals. The risk of liver-related mortality was especially high for people with a low CD4 cell count.
This survey looked at 6534 patients who were hepatitis C negative at
the point they entered the SHCS and who have had at least one other
hepatitis C test since then. In terms of the original route-of-exposure
group they belonged to when diagnosed with HIV, 3333 patients (51%) were
gay men, 3078 (47%) were heterosexual and 123 (2%) were injecting drug
users. For the sake of clarity, patients who were both gay and IDU were
excluded from the study, as were heterosexuals who started infecting
drugs after HIV diagnosis.
Since 1998 there were 167 new cases of
hepatitis C infection of which 101 (60%) were in gay men. But half of
the cases in gay men happened since 2009; in the last three years 51 out
of 65 new cases of hepatitis C (78%) were in gay men.