Monthly Archives: April 2010

Hepatitis C Infection in Gay Men

Recent outbreaks of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) among men who have sex with men have been reported in Europe and the United States. Doctors believe that a significant number of cases were transmitted through sexual contact. “This finding is alarming,” says Pitt Men’s Study Physician Assistant Kristen D’Acunto. “HCV is usually associated with injection drug use because it’s primarily spread through exposure to infected blood.”

Information posted on the Website suggests the high rate of infection among gay men may be the result of rough anal play. “‘Rough anal play’ relates to the specific sexual practices of gay men involved in the initial research, who were also HIV-positive,” explained Dr. Ross Cranston, the Pitt Men’s Study Medical Director. “This finding makes sense since these practices are more likely to result in mucosal tears resulting in bleeding, and so increase the risk for HCV transmission.”

Symptoms of acute HCV include jaundice, fatigue, abdominal pain, dark urine, loss of appetite and nausea. “It is also possible to have no symptoms at all,” D’Acunto is quick to point out. “Currently there is no vaccine and treatment is both difficult to undertake and has a limited success rate in HIV-positive individuals. So it’s important to use a condom during anal sex. It’s also important to get tested for HCV so that you can learn how to avoid spreading it to others.”  

“HCV infection is determined by a simple blood test,” adds Dr. Ross Cranston. “If it comes back positive, that means you have been infected with the virus. It’s important to note that some people recover from HCV without treatment. However, most people are chronically infected, which means the virus is in your system permanently. These are the folks that can go on to experience disease progression with abnormal liver function, the development of cirrhosis, and ultimately liver cancer.” 

Form more information about HCV, you can go any of these helpful links:

Oral HPV Testing

As a Pitt Men’s Study volunteer, you may have been asked to provide us with a saline oral rinse sample at your most recent visit. This is part of a sub-study that we are asking some of our men to participate in. Oral human papillomavirus (HPV or wart virus) infection has been recently identified as a cause of oropharyngeal cancer.  Researchers are aiming to compare the persistence and prevalence of oral HPV infection among HIV infected and uninfected men in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), of which the Pitt Men’s Study is a part. In addition, researchers are attempting to identify and evaluate biological and behavioral risk factors for oral HPV infection. This research is needed to better understand both who is at risk of HPV-associated oral cancers and the magnitude of these risks. If you are a Pitt Men’s Study volunteer and need more information, contact the clinic at  412-624-2008  or  1-800-987-1963 .

Potential heart risk when combining HIV drugs

The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning recently that potential heart risks when combining two HIV drugs. The agency said preliminary data suggest Roche’s Invirase and Abbott Laboratories’ Norvir can affect the electrical activity of the heart when used together. Changes to the heart’s electrical activity can delay the signals that trigger heart beats. In some cases the problem can cause irregular heart rhythms, leading to lightheadedness, fainting, and even death.

You can read the full Reuters article here.