Socio-demographic and ecological factors associated with anti-HCV prevalence in people who inject drugs: a systematic review

Samantha Colledge, Janni Leung, Jason Grebely, L Degenhardt, Amy Peacock, Matthew Hickman, Peter Vickerman, Jack Stone, Adam Trickey, Sarah Larney

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Background The World Health Organization (WHO) aim to eliminate hepatitis C virus (HCV) as a public health threat by 2030. People who inject drugs (PWID) are a key risk group for HCV transmission globally. We explored socio-demographic and ecological variables associated with HCV antibody (anti-HCV) prevalence among samples of PWID. Methods We systematically searched for and screened journal articles and online reports published between January 2011 and June 2017. Serologically confirmed anti-HCV prevalence among PWID and other study-level socio-demographic variables were extracted. Country-level ecological indicators were sourced from online databases. We used generalized linear models to investigate associations between anti-HCV prevalence estimates and other study-level and country-level variables. Results There were 223 studies from 84 countries contributing 569 estimates of anti-HCV prevalence among PWID. Among study-level indicators, higher levels of anti-HCV prevalence were associated with higher HIV prevalence (B = 0.20; 95% Confidence Interval [95%CI] = 0.12, 0.29, p < 0.001) and year of data collection (B=-0.08; 95%CI=-0.15, -0.02; p = 0.011). At a national level, higher Human Development Index scores (B=4.37; 95%CI=0.12, 8.63, p = 0.044) were associated with higher levels of anti-HCV in samples. Implications Serological surveillance data are increasingly available globally; however, there are still geographical gaps in quantification of HCV prevalence among PWID that must be addressed to inform efforts to achieve HCV elimination. Anti-HCV prevalence was lower in samples of PWID from countries with lower Human Development Index scores, which points to an opportunity to provide targeted intervention and potentially control transmission rates of infection in countries characterized by poor population health, education, and income.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107899
Number of pages5
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
Early online date6 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • Hepatitis C virus
  • people who inject drugs
  • HIV
  • ecological factors
  • global

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