Understanding HCV disease progression rates among PWID

The Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a chronic blood-borne viral infection that affects an estimated 160 million people, or 2-3% of the population world-wide. Alarmingly, chronic HCV infection accounts for one-quarter of the cases of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). If HCV is left untreated, chronic liver disease will occur in 60-70% of the cases, cirrhosis in 5-20% of the cases, and 1-5% will die from decompensated cirrhosis or HCC.

In most high-income countries, such as the United States, where drug injection is the primary route of HCV transmission, the disease is concentrated among people who inject drugs (PWID). While it is estimated that 50-80% of PWID are chronically infected, fewer than 5% of PWID have received treatment.

In a new study, "Hepatitis C virus (HCV) disease progression in people who inject drugs (PWID): A systematic review and meta-analysis," published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, a team of researchers from New York University's Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) assessed existing data on the natural history of HCV among PWID. A total of twenty-one studies examined over 8500 PWID, who contributed nearly 120,000 person-years at risk, for the study of four major HCV-related outcomes included in the synthesis.

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