Molecular epidemiology of hepatitis C virus infection among intravenous drug users

J Hepatol. 1995 Jun;22(6):691-5. doi: 10.1016/0168-8278(95)80225-8.


Background/aims: The clinico-pathological features of hepatitis C virus infection in intravenous drug users are different from those found in other hepatitis C virus-infected patients. Our aim was to test whether specific viral variants circulate within this particular patient population.

Methods: We studied the distribution of hepatitis C virus genotypes in 90 drug addicts and 484 controls, according to the method described by Okamoto.

Results: Hepatitis C virus type 1a and 3a infections were more frequent among intravenous drug users than in 125 age-matched controls (48.8% and 21.1% vs 17.6% and 11.2%), accounting for the majority of infections in intravenous drug users. Analysis of hepatitis C virus genotypes according to age showed that, in the general population, hepatitis C virus types 1a and 3a were more prevalent among patients younger than 40 years of age than in older individuals (17.6% and 11.2% vs 1.4% and 0.6%).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that hepatitis C virus types 1a and 3a were recently introduced in Italy, presumably via needle-sharing among intravenous drug users, and from this reservoir they are extending to the general population, particularly among younger subjects.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Base Sequence
  • Female
  • Genome, Viral
  • Hepacivirus / genetics*
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Prevalence
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Risk Factors
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / diagnosis
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / virology


  • RNA, Viral