Nav: Home

Hepatitis C infections could be prevented by reducing transmission in people who inject drugs

April 09, 2019

Stepping up efforts to prevent transmission of hepatitis C among people who inject drugs, could reduce future infections by 43 per cent globally, according to a study by researchers at the University of Bristol published in the Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology today [Tuesday 9 April 2019].

Hepatitis C is a virus that is passed on through blood exposure and results in liver disease. It is estimated that over 70 million people are infected with the hepatitis C virus worldwide and that around 400,00 people with hepatitis C die each year due to related conditions such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer.

People who inject drugs are at high risk of becoming infected with the virus through the sharing of needles, syringes and other injecting drug equipment. While the percentage of people with hepatitis C is estimated to be less than one per cent in most countries, the percentage of people who inject drugs with hepatitis C tends to be over 30 per cent.

The researchers used mathematical modelling to estimate how much the sharing of equipment for injecting drug use contributes to the hepatitis C epidemics for 88 countries, which account for 85 per cent of the world's population.

They estimated that, if hepatitis C transmission due to the risk associated with injecting drug use was removed, around 43 per cent of all infections up to 2030 would be prevented globally.

Seventy-nine per cent of hepatitis C infections could be prevented in high-income countries and 38 per cent of infections in low- and middle-income countries. These estimates range from two per cent in Nigeria to 100 per cent in several countries, including Iceland and Finland, with estimates of 98 per cent for the UK and 77 per cent for the USA - rising to 85 per cent when assuming an increasing epidemic of injecting.

Before blood screening was introduced in the early 1990s, contaminated blood transfusions were thought to be the main route of hepatitis C transmission. However, this is no longer the case in many countries, particularly high-income settings such as the UK and the USA. Hepatitis C is also transmitted through the re-use of unsterilised medical equipment, which is much more common in many low- and middle-income countries.

In the last decade new direct acting antiviral treatments for hepatitis C have become available, which cure nearly all individuals with hepatitis C infections. Subsequently, the World Health Organization has set targets to eliminate hepatitis as a public health problem by 2030.

Adam Trickey, from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions at the University of Bristol and lead author of the study, said: "As blood screening has improved, and there is less use of unsterilised medical equipment, a higher proportion of hepatitis C infections occur among people who inject drugs through the sharing of drug injecting equipment. This research highlights the importance of combating the hepatitis C epidemic among people who inject drugs, especially for meeting the World Health Organization's 2030 elimination targets."

Professor Peter Vickerman, from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Evaluation of Interventions at the University of Bristol, who co-led the study, said: "Interventions already exist to reduce the transmission of hepatitis C among people who inject drugs, including methadone maintenance treatment, the provision of clean needles and syringes, and treating hepatitis C infections with direct acting antivirals. However, in most countries, these interventions are not widely used. Without significantly reducing hepatitis C virus transmission among people who inject drugs the World Health Organization's elimination targets cannot be met."
-end-
Paper:

'The contribution of injecting drug use as a risk factor for hepatitis C virus transmission globally, regionally, and at country level: a modelling study' by Adam Trickey et al. in Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology

University of Bristol

Related Hepatitis Articles:

Hepatitis C increasing among pregnant women
Hepatitis C infections among pregnant women nearly doubled from 2009-2014, likely a consequence of the country's increasing opioid epidemic that is disproportionately affecting rural areas of states including Tennessee and West Virginia.
WHO's Global Hepatitis Report sets baseline to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030
The World Hepatitis Alliance today welcomes the publication of the first-ever Global Hepatitis Report by the World Health Organization (WHO), which includes new data on the prevalence and global burden of viral hepatitis.
Elimination of viral hepatitis by 2030: What's needed and how do we get there?
This first European Action Plan provides an important driver to aid countries in their fight against viral hepatitis, to which ECDC had the opportunity to contribute directly.
Discovery of new Hepatitis C virus mechanism
Researchers at Osaka University, Japan uncovered the mechanisms that suppress the propagation of the hepatitis C virus with the potential of improving pathological liver conditions.
Is Europe ready to eliminate viral hepatitis?
Currently, Europe records around 57,000 newly diagnosed acute and chronic cases of hepatitis B and C each year.
Why baby boomers need a hepatitis C screening
Hepatitis C affects a disproportionate amount of older Americans, born between 1945 and 1965.
Counterattack of the hepatitis B virus
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) infects liver cells. Drugs are available to treat HBV, but they rarely cure the infection, and so the virus typically returns after the treatment ends.
Hepatitis C tied to increased risk of Parkinson's
The hepatitis C virus may be associated with an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a study published in the Dec.
The hepatitis A virus is of animal origin
The hepatitis A virus can trigger acute liver inflammation which generally has a mild course in small children but which can become dangerous in adults.
Modeling the helicase to understand hepatitis C
NS3 is an enzyme specific to the hepatitis C virus.

Related Hepatitis Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...