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J Infect Dis. 2002 Dec 1;186(11):1558-64. Epub 2002 Nov 4.

Hepatitis C virus seroconversion among young injection drug users: relationships and risks.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology, University of California, San Francisco, 94110, USA.


The present study examined reasons for the high incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among young injection drug users (IDUs). IDUs <30 years old who tested negative for HCV antibody were enrolled in a prospective cohort. Risk factors for seroconversion were examined using time-dependent regression analyses: 48 of 195 IDUs seroconverted to HCV, for an incidence rate of 25.1/100 person-years (95% confidence interval, 18.7-32.9/100 person-years). Independent risk factors included sharing needles with an HCV-infected sex partner (borderline statistical significance, P=.11) or a person who was not a sex partner, sharing nonsterile drug-preparation equipment, pooling money with another IDU to buy drugs, and exchanging sex for money. Ubiquitous behaviors among young IDUs, such as the forming of injecting or sexual partnerships and consequent sharing of needles and drug preparation equipment, are risk factors for HCV. Interventions to reduce HCV transmission must recognize the importance of relationships on injecting risk.

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