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    HCV Among People Who Inject Drugs in Rural Puerto Rico

    Background

    Although we know that the microbial differences between HIV and HCV have an impact on prevalence, how drugs are obtained and used may also influence prevalence. Recent studies show Puerto Rico has one of the highest HCV prevalence rates in the world.

    Aim

    The authors looked risk factors of 315 rural Puerto Rican people who inject drugs (PWID) and also compared the behaviours of HCV negative and HCV positive participants.

    Method

    INSTI Rapid HIV and OraQuick Rapid tests were used to determine HIV and HCV status. Additional data was acquired through questionnaires.

    Findings

    • Over three quarters (78.4%) of the participants were positive for HCV and significantly fewer (6.0%) were HIV positive.
    • All HIV positive individuals were also infected with HCV.
    • Both HCV positive and HCV negative reported the same frequency of injection drug use during the last year.
    • Each additional person who used equipment before the participant was associated with an increase 18% increase in the odds of being HCV + positive.
    • Frequency of injection with a used cooker was over twice as common as injection with a used needle.

    HCV + (pos) Characteristics

    • 3 years older (than HCV negative)
    • Began injecting at a younger age (20.7 vs 26.3)
    • Injected for 9.4 more years than HCV negative group
    • Used cookers, cotton and water after an average of 2 or more people

    Conclusion

    This adds to current research showing that a notable proportion of HCV infections are due to cooker or cotton sharing.

    Abadie, R., Welch-Lazoritz, M., Gelepi-Acosta, C., Reyes, J.C., and Dombrowski, K. (2016). Understanding differences in HIV/HCV prevalence according to differentiated risk behaviors in a sample of PWID in rural Puerto Rico. Harm Reduction Journal. 13:10-13.