HIV-positive men who have sex with men (MSM) in Europe who are cured of hepatitis C virus have a high risk of recontracting HCV, aidsmap reports.

Publishing their findings in the Journal of Hepatology, researchers conducted an analysis of HCV reinfection rates among 606 MSM living with HIV in Europe who were patients in the European AIDS Treatment Network in the United Kingdom, Austria, France and Germany. The participants were followed between 2002 and 2014.

Details from the study were initially presented at the 51st International Liver Congress in Barcelona in April.

A total of 111 members of the study group spontaneously cleared their first hep C infection, while 494 were cured with treatment.

During the study’s follow-up period, 149 participants (25 percent) were reinfected with hep C. Out of the 70 men who were then cured of or spontaneously cleared their second infection, 30 (43 percent) were reinfected a second time. Five men were reinfected three times and one was reinfected four times.

One past meta-analysis of 17 studies of 13,000 HIV-positive MSM cured of HCV found a reinfection rate of 11 percent.

There is an emerging epidemic of sexually transmitted HCV among MSM in Western nations, particularly those living with HIV. Some HIV-negative MSM do contract hep C sexually as well. There have been documented cases of such men contracting hep C through sex while taking Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) against HIV infection.

In the NEAT study, the participants about whom there were proper data experienced their first reinfection at a rate of 7.3 percent per year. Reinfections occurred a median two years after men beat the virus the first time. There was a wide range of reinfection rates according to the study site, from a low of 5 percent per year in Hamburg and 21.8 percent per year in Paris. Those reinfected once experienced a second reinfection at a rate of 18.8 percent per year.

A total of 15.6 percent of men who were reinfected cleared their first reinfection; 28.6 percent did so following their second reinfection. Men were more likely to spontaneously clear a reinfection if they had so cleared their first infection and if they had ALT liver enzymes above 1,000 international units per milliliter.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.