Publications & Reports

Patterns and correlates of hepatitis C virus phylogenetic clustering among people living with HIV in Australia in the direct-acting antiviral era: A molecular epidemiology study among participants in the CEASE cohort.

Bartlett SR, Verich A, Carson J, Hosseini-Hooshyar S, Read P, Baker D, Post JJ, Finlayson R, Bloch M, Doyle JS, Shaw D, Hellard M, Martinez M, Marks P, Dore GJ, Matthews GV, Applegate T, Martinello M
British Columbia Centre for Disease Control Vancouver British Columbia Canada.


Background and Aims: In moving towards the elimination of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among people living with HIV, understanding HCV transmission patterns may provide insights to guide and evaluate interventions. In this study, we evaluated patterns of, and factors associated with HCV phylogenetic clustering among people living with HIV/HCV co-infection in Australia in the direct-acting antiviral era. Methods: HCV RNA was extracted from dried blood spot (DBS) samples collected between 2014 and 2018 in the CEASE cohort study. The HCV Core-E2 region was amplified by a polymerase chain reaction and Sanger sequenced. Maximum likelihood phylogenetic trees (1000 bootstrap replicates) were used to identify patterns of clustering (3% genetic distance threshold). Mixed-effects logistic regression was used to determine correlates of phylogenetic clustering. Factors assessed were sexual risk behavior, education, injecting drug use, housing, employment, HIV viral load, age, sex, and sexuality. Results: Phylogenetic trees were reconstructed for HCV subtype 1a (n = 139) and 3a (n = 63) sequences, with 29% (58/202) in a pair or cluster. Overall (n = 202), phylogenetic clustering was positively associated with younger age (under 40; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.52, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.20-5.29), and among gay and bisexual men (n = 168), was positively associated with younger age (aOR 2.61, 95% CI 1.10-6.19), higher education (aOR 2.58, 95% CI 1.09-6.13), and reporting high-risk sexual behavior (aOR 3.94, 95% CI 1.31-11.84). During follow-up, five reinfections were observed, but none were in phylogenetic clusters. Conclusion: This study found a high proportion of phylogenetic relatedness, predominantly among younger people and gay and bisexual men reporting high-risk sexual behavior. Despite this, few reinfections were observed, and reinfections demonstrated little relationship with known clusters. These findings highlight the importance of rapid HCV treatment initiation, together with monitoring of the phylogeny.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Health Science Reports
  • Published: 01/09/2022
  • Volume: 5
  • Issue: 5
  • Pagination: e719