Gay pride: becoming aware of hepatitis C

The Alliance for the Elimination of Viral Hepatitis in Spain (AEHVE), which brings together scientific societies and patient associations, has warned of the increase in the number of reinfections due to the hepatitis C virus among men who have sex with other men, especially in big cities.

Although the prevalence of active infection with hepatitis C virus in patients coinfected with HIV in Spain has fallen drastically (from 63.8% in 2015 to 8% in 2017), experts are concerned about the problem of reinfections for the hepatitis C virus in men who have sex with each other, already treated and cured.

And although the situation in Spain is better, the coordinator of the AEHVE, Javier García-Samaniego Rey , head of the Hepatology Section of the University Hospital La Paz , warns that the increase in reinfections “forces us to continue with the policies of primary prevention (education) and secondary (systematic screening) among the group already cured, in addition to treating cases of acute hepatitis C as a preventive measure “.

For his part, Dr. Juan Berenguer , of the Infectious Diseases Service of the Gregorio Marañón Hospital and member of the Executive Committee of the AEHVE, recalls:

“In the last fifteen years, and especially in large cities, different outbreaks of acute hepatitis C have been described in the aforementioned group with or without co-infection with HIV, which refer to unsafe sexual practices as the only way to potentially acquire the virus” .

“In most of these cases, in addition, there were facilitating factors such as sexual practices with a higher risk of bleeding, such as fisting or the use of sex toys, a high number of different partners, sex associated with drug use (chemsex). ) and the presence of sexually transmitted infections that can occur with genital ulcerations. “

In this context, the AEHVE wanted to take advantage of the celebrations on the occasion of Gay Pride Day to start a campaign in social networks that aims to alert people about the risk situations that can lead to a reinfection by HCV:

“Even if you are cured, you can reinfect yourself”, is the message that specialists want to reach this group, because the treatment is not a vaccine.

Facts about hepatitis C

Some facts about hepatitis C that you can consult on the AEHVE website

.- Hepatitis C is frequent: it occurs in 2-3% of the world population, and in 1% of the Spanish population.

.- The incubation period of hepatitis C can vary from two weeks to six months. After the initial infection, more than 80% of the cases have no symptoms.

Gay pride
Infographics of the AEHVE

.- Those with acute symptoms may present fatigue, inappetence, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clear stools, joint pain and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

.- Once the chronic infection develops, spontaneous healing is rare, and liver fibrosis progresses over time at a variable speed in each patient.

.- The progression of fibrosis is associated with age at the time of infection, sex, obesity and insulin resistance, alcohol consumption and HIV coinfection.


hepatitis C
Infographics of the AEHVE

.- It is estimated that 20-25% of patients with chronic hepatitis due to the hepatitis virus (HCV) progress to cirrhosis within 25-30 years.

.- The majority of patients with HCV infection do not have symptoms, even those with cirrhosis.

.- HCV infection does not affect only the liver. It is a systemic disease, with hematological, metabolic, cardiovascular, renal and dermatological involvement.

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