CATIE’s HepCInfo Updates 6.3

Hep C Info UpdatesNew and Noteworthy

Vertical transmission of hepatitis C estimated to occur in over 5% of births in women with hepatitis C
According to a systematic review on vertical transmission of hepatitis C, the estimated risk for transmission of hepatitis C to the fetus during pregnancy is 5.8%, reported researchers in Clinical Infectious Diseases. With hepatitis C and HIV co-infection, the risk of vertical transmission is 10.8%.

The goal of the systematic review was to provide a global estimate of the percentage of children that contract hepatitis C through vertical transmission. The review included 109 articles published since 2003.

Vertical transmission occurs when a virus is passed from a pregnant person to their child during the pregnancy. There is currently no way to prevent hepatitis C from being passed from a pregnant person to their fetus (unborn child).

More research is needed about additional risk factors for vertical hepatitis C transmission, including the impact of HIV treatment and hepatitis C virus genotype, concluded the researchers. (healio.com, January 2015, in English)

HIV viral rebound linked to liver damage progression in people co-infected with HIV and Hep C
HIV-positive people with hepatitis C experienced progressive liver damage if their HIV viral load rebounded, reported Canadian researchers in HIV Medicine. A growing body of research has shown that HIV and Hep C co-infected people experience faster progression to liver damage, but why this happens is not well understood.

HIV rebound was defined as an HIV viral load above 1000 copies/mL or detectable HIV viral load on two consecutive tests. The researchers also measured HIV blips, which were defined as a single viral load measurement between 50 to 100 copies/mL, with undetectable viral load measures before and after the blip.

Participants were part of the Canadian Co-infection Cohort study. The majority of the 288 participants were men, and their average age was 45. At the beginning of the study, all participants were taking HIV treatment, had an undetectable HIV viral load and did not have liver damage.

In just over one year, 57 (20%) participants developed liver damage (fibrosis). HIV viral rebound was linked to developing liver damage, whereas HIV blips were not.

“Liver fibrosis progression was associated with HIV rebound, but not blips, and with increasing cumulative exposure to HIV RNA, highlighting the importance of achieving and maintaining HIV suppression in the setting of HIV/HCV coinfection,” the study authors concluded. (HIVandhepatitis.com, February 2015, in English)

Study estimates the risk of getting hepatitis C from sharing injection drug use equipment
According to an Australian study reported in PLoS One, the estimate of the likelihood of becoming infected with Hep C from one incident of sharing used injection drug use equipment is 0.57%. This estimated risk increases to up to 6% if the injection drug use equipment was previously used by someone with hepatitis C.

The study included 164 Australian prisoners who tested negative for hepatitis C and reported a lifetime history of injection drug use. Participants were mostly male with an average age of 25. They were interviewed every six months about their risk factors for hepatitis C and also tested for the virus. The study took place between 2005 and 2012. Needle and syringe programs are not available in prisons in Australia or Canada.

During two years of follow up, 37 participants (40%) tested positive for hepatitis C. Compared to participants who tested negative for hepatitis C, the Hep C-positive people injected drugs more often and shared injecting equipment more often.

In order to prevent Hep C transmission, the study authors suggested initiating interventions that could decrease the number of times injection equipment is shared, such as starting needle and syringe programs and improving access to opiate substitution therapies. (aidsmap.com, January 2015, in English)