US: Hepatitis C in HIV positive gay men at an all-time high

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The transmission of hepatitis C in the US is at an all-time high for HIV positive gay men, according to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Queerty reports researchers at the Fenway Institute in Boston say the study’s findings show the infections were most likely due to risky sexual behavior or non-injecting drug use.

Scientists studied over 1,500 HIV positive gay men over a one year period between June of 2008 and June 2009.

They found 6% were con-infected with hepatitis C. One of the study’s authors suggests the HCV infection may be changing among men who sleep with men in the US.

Although most of the evidence comes from Europe, the similar trend of transmissions with the absence of injecting drugs is also being noticed in HIV positive gay men in larger US cities like New York.

The authors conclude that HIV positive gay men should be tested annually for hepatitis C and be educated on sexual-risk reduction in relation to the infection.

While there is no vaccine for hepatitis C, it can be managed with medications. It is, however a chronic condition that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer later in life, especially in patients who are HIV positive.