Background: To analyze self-reported prevalence of HCV and HIV in a sample of socially excluded injecting drug users, as well as factors associated with the presence of these diseases.
Methods: Cross-sectional study. Data were collected with a structured, face-to-face questionnaire by outreach workers and privileged access interviewers in 1131 participants who had injected heroin and/or cocaine over the past year (71.5% men; mean age, 30 years) from Seville and Granada, Spain; Cologne, Germany; Vienna, Austria; Brussels, Belgium; Athens, Greece; Dublin, Ireland; London, England; Lisbon, Portugal and Perugia, Italy.
Results: Among the total sample, 595 (52.6%) participants reported HCV-positive status and 143 (12.6%) HIV-positive status. Multivariate analysis for HCV showed that women are at less risk than men, and that longer drug use, injecting while in prison, sharing needles, and reported positive status for tuberculosis, HBV, HIV or sexually-transmitted disease are positively associated with HCV. Participants reporting positive HIV status were generally older, had injected drugs while in prison, had completed less than 8 years of schooling, were divorced, had no regular employment, and declared infection with tuberculosis, sexually-transmitted disease and HCV.
Conclusions: The highest incidences of HCV and HIV were reported by participants in a poorer social and health situation. Drug addicts must cope not only with their addiction but also with the process of social exclusion they are immersed in. To the greatest extent possible, any course of action for this group should be built into integrated, coordinated plans that take a broad approach to the main issues involved.