Seroprevalence of hepatitis virus infection in men who have sex with men aged 18-40 years in Taiwan.

Published: August 4, 2012



Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at increased risk for hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections than the general population. Comparisons of the seroprevalence rates of these hepatitis viruses between HIV-positive and HIV-negative MSM are rarely performed in Taiwan.


Between January 2009 and June 2010, data on the serologies for HAV, HBV, and HCV were collected from two groups of patients: HIV-negative MSM, aged 18-40 years, who sought voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for HIV infection, and HIV-positive MSM of the same age group who sought HIV care at the National Taiwan University Hospital. Both groups of patients were also tested for syphilis.


During the 18-month study period, 690 HIV-negative MSM and 438 HIV-positive MSM were enrolled and tested for anti-HAV antibody, HBV surface antigen (HBsAg), hepatitis B core antibody (anti-HBc antibody), and anti-HCV antibody. HIV-positive MSM were older than HIV-negative MSM (30.5 ± 5.4 vs. 25.8 ± 4.7 years, p < 0.01). For HIV-positive MSM, the mean CD4 lymphocyte count was 477.6 ± 230.0 cells/μL and 46% of them had undetectable plasma HIV RNA load (< 40 copies/mL by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay). The overall seroprevalence rates of HAV, HBsAg, and HCV in HIV-positive MSM were 15.1%, 16.4%, and 5.5%, respectively, while in HIV-negative MSM, they were 7.4%, 6.2%, and 0.4%, respectively. In the multivariate analysis, age was significantly associated with seropositivity for HAV (OR [per one age group increase]: 1.96; 95% CI: 1.6-2.5), HBsAg (OR: 2.02; 95% CI: 1.6-2.6), anti-HBc (OR: 2.68; 95% CI: 2.3-3.2), anti-HCV (OR: 1.67; 95% CI: 1.0-2.7), and anti-HBs (OR: 1.25; 95% CI: 1.0-1.5). HIV infection was associated with seropositivity for HBsAg (OR: 1.73; 95% CI: 1.1-2.7), anti-HBc (OR: 2.44; 95% CI: 1.8-3.3), HCV (OR: 8.91; 95% CI: 2.5-31.4), and syphilis (OR: 11.21; 95% CI: 6.7-18.9).


HIV-positive MSM have a higher seroprevalence rate of HBV and HCV infection than HIV-negative MSM in Taiwan. Vaccination and safe-sex counseling should be provided to prevent the transmission of hepatitis viruses among MSM who may be engaged in high-risk behaviors.

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