Reuters Health Information (2004-11-11): HIV and HCV infection rates higher than expected in London drug users
HIV and HCV infection rates higher than expected in London drug users
Last Updated: 2004-11-11 19:01:03 -0400 (Reuters Health)
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Due possibly to harm
reduction strategies implemented in the late 1980s, England had some of
the lowest rates of HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among
injecting drug users (IDUs) during the 1990s. Now, new research
suggests that these historically low rates have disappeared.
As reported in the November 11th online issue of the British Medical
Journal, Dr. Ali Judd, from Imperial College London, and colleagues
evaluated the prevalence of HIV and HCV infection among IDUs in 2001 by
surveying and testing blood samples from 428 subjects. The subjects
were younger than 30 years, had been injecting drugs for no more than 6
years, and had come mainly from London.
The prevalence of HCV and HIV infection at baseline was 43.7% and
4.2%, respectively. During 1-year follow-up, 53 patients became
infected with HCV and 9 with HIV, yielding incidence rates of 41.8 and
3.4 cases per 100 person years, respectively.
The results suggest that rates of HCV and HIV infection are increasing among IDUs in England, the researchers note.
"Possible explanations for the rising incidence include changes in
patterns of injecting drug use, with greater injection of crack and
injecting risk behavior in newer IDUs than in those injecting in the
early to mid-1990s," the authors state.
"Innovative strategies are required, specific to hepatitis C virus
and to HIV, to change behavior and to deliver health education messages
and harm reduction strategies early enough to make a difference," they