HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) dramatically reduce their risk of acquiring hepatitis B virus (HBV) if they have an undetectable HIV viral load thanks to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment. Publishing their findings in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers analyzed data on 2,375 HBV-negative MSM in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, which began in 1984. The cohort included both HIV-negative and HIV-positive men.

At the study’s outset, 41 percent of the HIV-positive men and 28 percent of the HIV-negative men had been vaccinated against hep B. By the end of the study period in 2013, a respective 67 percent and 58 percent of the men had received at least two of the three doses of the vaccine.

During 25,322 person-years of follow-up, or a median 9.5 years per person, 244 of the men contracted hep B.

The HIV-positive men who had an undetectable viral load were 80 percent less likely to contract hep B than the men with HIV who had a delectable viral load, including those who were taking ARVs and those who were not. The men with a fully suppressed HIV viral load were just as likely as the HIV-negative men to contract hep B; whereas, in general, HIV was independently associated with a 2.4-fold increased risk of hep B acquisition.

To read a press release about the study, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.