Objectives: The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence and correlates of four blood-borne viral infections among illicit drug injectors with up to 6 years of injecting experience.
Methods: We analyzed data from 716 volunteers recruited in 1988 and 1989. Test results for hepatitis C virus (HCV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 (HIV), and human T-lymphotropic virus types I and II (HTLV) were examined across six sequential cohorts defined by duration of drug injection.
Results: Overall, seroprevalence of HCV, HBV, HIV, and HTLV was 76.9%, 65.7%, 20.5% and 1.8%, respectively, and 64.7%, 49.8%, 13.9%, and 0.5%, respectively, among those who had injected for 1 year or less. Among the newest initiates, HCV and HBV were associated with injecting variables, and HIV was associated with sexual variables.
Conclusions: The high rates of HCV, HBV, and HIV infections among short-term injectors emphasizes the need to target both parenteral and sexual risk reduction interventions early. Renewed efforts at primary prevention of substance abuse are indicated.