Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 16227790
AIDS 2005 Nov;19(16):1827-35
OBJECTIVE: To compare the prevalence of hepatitis C (HCV) RNA in semen from men infected with HCV and those coinfected with HIV-1/HCV and to study the origin of HCV shed in semen.
DESIGN: Two prospective studies (HC EP09 and BINECO) included 120 HCV-positive men, 82 coinfected with HIV-1; all had positive HCV RNA detection in blood.
METHODS: Paired blood and semen samples were collected for HCV RNA detection and quantification in seminal plasma and in blood serum; repeated semen samples were obtained for 45 men. HCV RNA was sought in spermatozoa and non-sperm cells. Phylogenetic analysis of the HVR-1 region of HCV compared the quasispecies in blood serum and seminal plasma of two men.
RESULTS: HCV RNA was more frequently found in the semen of men coinfected with HIV-1 (37.8%) than in those with only HCV infection (18.4%) (P = 0.033). HCV RNA detection in semen was intermittent and was positive in at least one semen sample of 42.8% of HIV-1/HCV-coinfected men who provided repeated samples. Men with HCV-positive semen had significantly higher HCV load in blood than men with HCV-negative semen (P = 0.038). Phylogenetic comparison of HCV quasispecies in blood and in semen showed no evidence of HCV replication in genital leukocytes; however, a phenetic structure was observed between compartments (P < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: HCV particles in semen originate from passive passage from blood, with preferential transfer of some variants. Nearly half of HIV-1/HCV-coinfected men may intermittently harbour HCV in their semen. Recommendations of protected sex for HIV-infected individuals should be reinforced.