March 18, 2009
The researchers studied whether syringe type, syringe cleaning, and distributive syringe sharing were associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (self-reported and laboratory-confirmed) among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Hungary.
Between October 2005 and December 2006, 215 IDUs were recruited from non-treatment settings in Budapest. Correlates of self-reports of HCV infection and testing positive for HCV were identified using multivariate logistic regression models.
While 37 percent of participants tested positive for HCV, only 39 percent of those who tested positive (14 percent of the total sample) self-reported being HCV-infected. Use of two-piece syringes was significantly associated with self-reported HCV infection, while distributive syringe sharing was not associated with self-report of being infected with HCV. Engaging in receptive sharing of only one-piece syringes but always cleaning before reuse was not associated with testing positive for HCV. Any receptive sharing of only one-piece syringes and not always cleaning before reuse was significantly associated with testing HCV-positive. The researchers determined that sharing cookers and squirting drugs from one syringe into another syringe were not associated with testing positive for HCV.
"The high percent of those HCV-infected who did not know they were infected highlights the need to provide better access to confidential testing and counseling services," the authors concluded. "Counseling should emphasize secondary prevention of HCV among HCV-infected IDUs. Our findings also indicate that syringe type and syringe cleaning practices may play a role in HCV transmission. Ethnographic research should identify the reasons why IDUs may use two-piece syringes and suggest means to reduce their use. Thorough cleaning of one-piece syringes when sterile syringes are unavailable may be an efficient way to reduce the risk of HCV infection."