Hepatitis Rates Soar Among IV Drug Users, Study
WEDNESDAY, July 27 (HealthDay News) -- About 10 million
injection drug users worldwide have hepatitis C, and 1.3 million
have hepatitis B, a new study reports.
Hepatitis can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver
Researchers analyzed international data and found that rates of
hepatitis C infection among injection drug users (IDUs) were 60 to
80 percent in 25 countries and greater than 80 percent in 12 other
These countries included Spain (80 percent), Norway (76
percent), Germany (75 percent), France (74 percent), United States
(73 percent), China (67 percent), Canada (64 percent), Italy (81
percent), Portugal (83 percent), Pakistan (84 percent), the
Netherlands (86 percent), Thailand (90 percent) and Mexico (97
Lower rates were seen in New Zealand (52 percent), Australia (55
percent) and the United Kingdom (50 percent), the researchers
The countries believed to have the largest number of IDUs
infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are China (1.6 million), the
United States (1.5 million) and Russia (1.3 million), the
Rates of hepatitis B infection were 5 to 10 percent in 21
countries and more than 10 percent in 10 countries. The highest
rates were in Vietnam (20 percent), Estonia (19 percent), Saudi
Arabia (18 percent) and Taiwan (17 percent). The United Kingdom had
the highest rate in Western Europe at 9 percent. The rate in the
United States was 12 percent.
The study, released to coincide with World Hepatitis Day, is
published online July 28 in
"The public-health response to blood-borne virus transmission in IDUs has mainly centered on HIV. Maintenance and strengthening of the response to HIV in IDUs remains crucial, but the significance of viral hepatitis needs to receive greater attention than it does at present," Paul Nelson, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and colleagues wrote.
"Efforts to prevent, treat, and reduce harms related to liver disease in IDUs are essential -- especially in situations in which HIV has successfully been prevented or managed -- because the large numbers of IDUs infected with HCV and significant morbidity resulting from this infection mean that the health and economic costs of HCV transmitted by injected drug use might be as high as (or higher than) those of HIV," the authors added.
"Nonetheless, HCV treatment is underused. Part of the reason for this neglect is the high cost, which will remain a substantial barrier to increasing of treatment coverage in low-resource settings until costs are reduced," the researchers concluded.
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about
Copyright © 2011
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.