High prevalence and incidence of HIV and HCV among new injecting drug users with a large proportion of migrants - Is prevention failing?

Cinta Folch, Jordi Casabona, Albert Espelt, Xavier Majó, Mercè Meroño, Victoria Gonzalez, Lucas Wiessing, Joan Colom, M. Teresa Brugal

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35 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Objectives: The aim of this study was to assess differences in the prevalence of HIV and HCV infection and associated risk factors between new (injecting for ≤5 years) and long-term injectors and to estimate HIV/HCV incidence among new injectors. Methods: Cross-sectional study among people who inject drugs (PWID) who attended harm reduction centers in Catalonia in 2010-11. Anonymous questionnaires and oral fluid samples were collected. Poisson regression models were applied to determine the association between HIV/HCV infection and risk factors. Results: Of the 761 participants, 21.4% were new injectors. New injectors were younger than long-term injectors (mean age = 31.6 vs. 37.8) and were more likely to be immigrants (59.0% vs. 33.4%). HIV and HCV prevalence was 20.6% and 59.4% among new injectors, and estimated HIV and HCV incidence 8.7 and 25.1 /100 person-years, respectively. Among new injectors, HIV infection was associated with homelessness (PR = 3.10) and reporting a previous sexually transmitted infection (PR = 1.79). Reporting front/backloading (PR = 1.33) and daily injection (PR = 1.35) were risk-factors for HCV infection. For long-term injectors, HIV risk factors were: having shared syringes (PR = 1.85), having injected cocaine (PR = 1.38), reporting front/backloading (PR = 1.30) and ever having been in prison (PR = 2.03). Conclusion: A large proportion of PWID in Catalonia are new injectors, a subgroup with a high level of both sexual and parenteral exposure and a high incidence rate of HIV/ HCV infections. It is important to improve early diagnosis of these infections among this group, in particular among migrants. To identify and address risk factors for homelessness PWID should be a priority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-260
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016


  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV, injecting drug use
  • migrants
  • new injectors


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