August 11, 2019
1 min read

20% of adults with injection drug use have been infected with HBV

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Hepatitis B infection rates among adults with a history of injection drug use are more than four times higher than those of the general population, according to a recent study.

National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2001 to 2016 showed that almost one-fifth of injection drug users had ever been infected with HBV, which can be transmitted through needle sharing, researchers reported.

“National HBV infection prevalence in persons who inject drugs remains ill-defined,” Jaimie Z. Shing, MPH, of the division of epidemiology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and colleagues wrote. “We estimated the prevalence of total HBV core antibody (anti-HBc) positivity, indicating previous or ongoing HBV infection, among adults aged 20-59 years with injection drug use (IDU) history.”

Shing and colleagues calculated anti-HBc positivity prevalence among adults with a history of IDU and among the general United States population. According to the study, they compared sex, age group, birth cohort, race/ethnicity, health insurance coverage and hepatitis A immunity by anti-HBc status for adults with IDU history, and calculated prevalence rates and ratios to determine characteristics associated with anti-HBc positivity.

According to the results, from 2001 to 2016, anti-HBc positivity prevalence was 19.7% (95% CI, 16%-24%) among those with a history of IDU compared with 4.6% (95% CI, 4.3%-5%) in the general population. Additionally, Shing and colleagues reported that the prevalence of current HBV infection was 0.4% (95% CI, 0.3%-0.5%) in the general population and that among adults with a history of IDU, 19.8% reported injecting in the past year and 28.5% had HAV immunity.

Programs promoting safe IDU practices, drug treatment, and hepatitis A and B vaccination should be key components of viral hepatitis prevention programs to minimize the risk of transmission to susceptible [persons who inject drugs],” the researchers concluded – by Caitlyn Stulpin

Disclosure: Shing reports receiving a grant from the National Center for Advancing Translational Science.