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:

Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine
X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response.
Checkmate for hepatitis B viruses in the liver
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University Hospital Heidelberg, have for the first time succeeded in conquering a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus in a mouse model.
How common is Hepatitis C infection in each US state?
Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of illness and death in the United States and injection drug use is likely fueling many new cases.
New strains of hepatitis C found in Africa
The largest population study of hepatitis C in Africa has found three new strains of the virus circulating in the general population in sub-Saharan Africa.
High stability of the hepatitis B virus
At room temperature, hepatitis B viruses (HBV) remain contagious for several weeks and they are even able to withstand temperatures of four degrees centigrade over the span of nine months.
Findings could lead to treatment of hepatitis B
Researchers have gained new insights into the virus that causes hepatitis B -- a life-threatening and incurable infection that afflicts more than 250 million people worldwide.
How to cure more hepatitis C patients
The cost of cures for hepatitis C have been prohibitive, but experts who served on an NAS panel have a solution that will save more patients and incentivize drug innovation.
Hepatitis C: A novel point-of-care assay
One of the major challenges identified by the WHO in efforts to eradicate the hepatitis C virus is the diagnosis of chronic cases that are generally asymptomatic.
Countries risk 'running out' of hepatitis C patients to treat, says World Hepatitis Alliance
The latest data on the global hepatitis C epidemic, released today at the World Hepatitis Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, reveal that most countries (especially high-income countries) are running out of patients to treat because of the low diagnosis rates worldwide.
Australia currently on track to eliminate hepatitis C by 2030, but challenges remain for hepatitis B
New data released at this year's World Hepatitis Summit in Sao Paulo, Brazil, shows that Australia is currently on track to eliminate hepatitis C thanks to its huge efforts to enable population-wide access to treatment.
More Hepatitis News and Hepatitis Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.