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Hepatitis B and C Prevalent in Injecting Drug Users

Last Updated: July 28, 2011.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus surface antigens (HBsAg) are common in injecting drug users (IDUs), with an estimated 10.0 million IDUs positive for HCV and 1.2 million for HBsAg, according to a review published online July 28 in The Lancet.

THURSDAY, July 28 (HealthDay News) -- Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface antigens (HBsAg) are common in injecting drug users (IDUs), with an estimated 10.0 million IDUs positive for HCV and 1.2 million for HBsAg, according to a review published online July 28 in The Lancet.

Paul K. Nelson, M.H.Sc., from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues reviewed available literature to estimate the national, regional, and global prevalence and population size for HCV and HBV in IDUs. Serological reports of HCV antibodies (anti-HCV), HBV antibodies (anti-HBc), or HBsAg were analyzed from studies with more than 40 participants and sampling frames that did not exclude participants on the basis of age or gender. Prevalence was estimated with anti-HCV and anti-HBc as proxies for exposure, and HBsAg as proxy for current infection, and was combined with IDU population sizes to get the number of IDUs with positive HBV or HCV status.

The investigators found that, based on eligible reports with anti-HCV prevalence data from IDUs in 77 counties, the midpoint anti-HCV prevalence was 60 to 80 percent in 25 countries and more than 80 percent in 12 countries; worldwide, there might be up to 10 million anti-HCV-positive IDUs, with the highest numbers in China, the United States, and Russia. Eligible HBsAg reports were identified for 59 countries, with midpoint prevalence of 5 to 10 percent in 21 countries and more than 10 percent in 10 countries. Overall, an estimated 6.4 million and 1.2 million IDUs were anti-HBc positive and HBsAg positive, respectively.

"Our global systematic review suggested that around 10.0 million IDUs are HCV positive and around 1.2 million are HBsAg positive," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to a health care company.

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