London data show that hepatitis C is passed on during anal sex without a condom

An article by Roger Pebody, published on 10 April 2017 by NAM aidsmap highlights “a third of people acquiring hepatitis C were gay men who did not have HIV, clinicians from the Mortimer Market Centre in London told the British HIV Association (BHIVA) conference in Liverpool [in April 2017].”

Whilst it is not clear whether the data related to a specific clinic or a broader population, the article makes the following important points:

“several studies have identified receptive anal sex without condoms as a risk factor. In the last year, American researchers have demonstrated that hepatitis C virus can be found at infectious levels both in semen and the rectal mucosa. This fundamentally challenges the belief that hepatitis C can only be transmitted in blood.”

“Moreover, until now, most cases of sexually transmitted hepatitis C have been in gay men living with HIV, but clinicians have begun to identify cases of hepatitis C in HIV-negative gay men, especially among men using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).”

“It is possible that, previously, hepatitis C was concentrated in networks of HIV-positive men due to serosorting. Increasing knowledge of treatment as prevention and use of PrEP may now mean that more HIV-negative gay men are having condomless sex with HIV-positive men. While those HIV-negative men will be protected from HIV, they may be exposed to hepatitis C.”

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