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BMC Infectious Diseases

Open Access

Low prevalence of hepatitis C infection among HIV-infected individuals in Slovenia: a nationwide study, 1985–2013

  • Katja Seme1,
  • Mateja Škamperle1,
  • Maja M Lunar1,
  • Polona Maver Vodičar1,
  • Janez Tomažič2,
  • Ludvik Vidmar2,
  • Primož Karner2,
  • Tomaž Vovko2,
  • Blaž Pečavar2,
  • Mojca Matičič2 and
  • Mario Poljak1
BMC Infectious Diseases201414(Suppl 4):O15

https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2334-14-S4-O15

Published: 29 May 2014

After introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy and consecutive successful control of HIV infection hepatitis C virus (HCV) has become an important pathogen in HIV infected patients. HIV infection in a person who is also HCV infected results in reduced rate of spontaneous HCV RNA clearance, faster liver disease progression and more aggressive course of liver disease.

A total of 639 individuals were cumulatively reported as HIV-infected in Slovenia until the end of 2013. The majority of HIV-infected were men (553/639; 86.5%) and among them 68.2% were men who have sex with men. The predominant HIV-1 subtype in Slovenia is subtype B, which is present in 85.8% of the infected individuals.

We tested 575 (90.0%) of 639 Slovenian individuals who were confirmed as HIV positive by the end of 2013 for HCV infection. All individuals included in a study were tested for both anti-HCV and HCV RNA. Out of 575 HIV-infected individuals 44 (7.6%) had anti-HCV specific antibodies, and 32 of them (72.7%) were also HCV RNA positive. We didn’t detect HCV RNA alone in any of the 531 anti-HCV-negative individuals. Anti-HCV positivity was significantly more frequent in HIV-infected individuals who acquired HIV by parenteral route (73.3%) comparing with those who acquired HIV by sexual route (2.6%). The most prevalent HCV genotype among HIV-infected individuals was genotype 1 (70.8%), followed by genotype 3 (16.7%), genotype 4 (8.3%) and genotype 2 (4.2%). HCV genotypes distribution didn’t significantly differ between HIV-positive and HIV-negative, HCV-positive Slovenian patients.

Our study which was performed on the highest proportion per entire population of HIV-infected individuals from a certain country identified Slovenia as the country with the lowest prevalence of HCV infection among HIV-infected individuals. The predominance of sexual transmission of HIV (79.2%) in Slovenia and the fact that HIV has not yet entered the intravenous drug users’ community in Slovenia are the two most likely reasons for low prevalence of HIV-HCV co-infection. However, the present epidemiological situation in Slovenia needs to be monitored closely since it could quickly change in a case of an increase in the incidence of acute hepatitis C among HIV-infected men who have sex with men and/or increase of HIV infection among intravenous drug users in the country, as it happened recently in some neighboring countries.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
(2)
Department of Infectious Diseases, University Medical Center, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Copyright

© Seme et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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