Hepatitis C virus infection, HIV co-infection, and associated risk among injecting drug users in Togliatti, Russia

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The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and co-infection with HIV among injecting drug users (IDUs) in Togliatti City, Russia. Unlinked anonymous cross-sectional survey of IDUs recruited from community settings, with oral fluid sample collection for HCV and HIV antibody (anti-HCV, anti-HIV) testing, was carried out. The anti-HCV prevalence was 87% (357/411), anti-HIV prevalence 56% (234/418), and 93% (214/230) of HIV-positive IDUs were co-infected with HCV. Only 23% (94/411) of those HCV positive self-reported as such. In an adjusted model, increased odds of HCV positivity were associated with needle and syringe, as well as injecting paraphernalia sharing in the last four weeks. IDUs injecting more than once with the same needle also had raised odds. There were no marked associations between HCV positivity and the duration of injecting or age group. Almost all IDUs were HCV positive, and almost all HIV-positive IDUs were HCV co-infected. There is an urgent need to maximize syringe distribution coverage, develop health promotion targeting HCV prevention for IDUs, and improve access among IDUs to treatments for HIV and HCV infection.

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