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News

Hepatitis C virus infection among drug users in Italy

Anti-HCV status is independently associated with drug use duration and route of administration, find doctors in the September issue of the Journal of Viral Hepatitis.

News image

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This study, conducted by researchers from Italy and the United States, assessed the rates and predictors of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in drug users receiving treatment for opiate addiction.

The team evaluated a cohort of 1095 participants in 16 centers for drug users in north-eastern Italy.

They collected data using standardized face-to-face interviews in 2001.
74% were HCV seropositive.
Journal of Viral Hepatitis

The team found that, of 1095 participants, 74% were HCV seropositive.

They determined that anti-HCV status was independently associated with drug use duration >10 years, injecting, as well as hepatitis B (HBV) and HIV seropositivity.

The physicians analyzed subjects further, based on duration of heroin use (greater or less than 10 years).

They found that both the route of drug administration and HBV status were associated with HCV seropositivity in both groups. However, less education was associated with HCV in the shorter term drug users.

Both HIV status and having a sexual partner with a history of drug use were associated with HCV seropositivity in longer term drug users.

Dr Quaglio's team concluded, "Half of the short-term heroin users were still HCV seronegative when starting treatment, suggesting opportunities for reducing new HCV infections".

"Remarkable was the relationship between vaccination for hepatitis B and HCV serostatus".

"Being HBV seropositive was strongly associated with being HCV seropositive".

"But heroin users who had been vaccinated for HBV were not significantly more likely to be HCV seropositive than heroin users who were HBV seronegative".

"HBV vaccination does not provide biological protection against HCV; however, vaccinating heroin users against HBV may help to create a stronger pro-health attitude among heroin users, leading to a reduction in HCV risk behavior".

J Viral Hepatitis 2003; 10(5): 394-400
10 September 2003

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