The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among noninjecting drug users has been reported to be higher than in the general population, but the reasons for this observation remain unclear. Noninjecting drug users aged 15-40 years and who used drugs for no longer than 10 years were enrolled in the study. The participants were interviewed about risk behaviors and had specimens drawn for serological testing. Of 276 enrolled, 4.7% were infected with HCV. Drug users who had ever sniffed or snorted heroin in combination with cocaine were significantly more likely to be infected with HCV compared with those who never sniffed or snorted heroin with cocaine. No other drug use or sexual risk behaviors were found to be associated with HCV infection. These findings suggest that sniffing or snorting heroin with cocaine may explain the increase frequently found in HCV infection among noninjectors, but further studies are necessary.
Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.