, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 183-193,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 03 Mar 2007

Major decline of hepatitis C virus incidence rate over two decades in a cohort of drug users


Injecting drug users (DU) are at high risk for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV infections. To examine the prevalence and incidence of these infections over a 20-year period (1985–005), the authors evaluated 1276 DU from the Amsterdam Cohort Studies who had been tested prospectively for HIV infection and retrospectively for HCV infection. To compare HCV and HIV incidences, a smooth trend was assumed for both curves over calendar time. Risk factors for HCV seroconversion were determined using Poisson regression. Among ever-injecting DU, the prevalence of HCV antibodies was 84.5% at study entry, and 30.9% were co-infected with HIV. Their yearly HCV incidence dropped from 27.5/100 person years (PY) in the 1980s to 2/100 PY in recent years. In multivariate analyses, ever-injecting DU who currently injected and borrowed needles were at increased risk of HCV seroconversion (incidence rate ratio 29.9, 95% CI 12.6, 70.9) compared to ever-injecting DU who did not currently inject. The risk of HCV seroconversion decreased over calendar time. The HCV incidence in ever-injecting DU was on average 4.4 times the HIV incidence, a pattern seen over the entire study period. The simultaneous decline of both HCV and HIV incidence probably results from reduced risk behavior at the population level.

Charlotte H.S.B. van den Berg and ColetteSmit contributed equally to this paper