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Keywords:

  • chronic coinfection;
  • hepatitis E virus;
  • HIV;
  • seroprevalence

Objectives

Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is an emerging infection in developed countries and is thought to be a porcine zoonosis. HEV can cause chronic infection and cirrhosis in the immunosuppressed, including patients with HIV infection. Little is known about HEV and HIV coinfection. The aim of the study was to document the incidence of chronic HEV coinfection in patients with HIV infection and to determine the anti-HEV seroprevalence and compare it with that of a control population.

Methods

A cohort/case–control study was carried out in two teaching hospitals in southwest England. A total of 138 patients with HIV infection were tested for HEV using an immunoassay for anti-HEV immunoglobulin M (IgM) and IgG and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and 464 control subjects were tested for anti-HEV IgG. Demographic, lifestyle and laboratory data were prospectively collected on each patient with HIV infection. The anti-HEV IgG seroprevalence in patients with HIV infection was compared with that in controls and demographic risk factors for HEV exposure were explored using logistic regression models.

Results

There was no difference in anti-HEV IgG seroprevalence between the HIV-infected patients and controls. The only risk factor predictive of anti-HEV seropositivity was the consumption of raw/undercooked pork; sexual risk factors were unrelated. No patient with HIV infection had evidence of chronic coinfection with HEV

Conclusions

Anti-HEV seroprevalence is similar in controls and patients with HIV infection. Risk factor analysis suggests that HEV is unlikely to be transmitted sexually. Chronic coinfection with HEV was absent, indicating that chronic HEV/HIV coinfection is not a common problem in this cohort.