Journal Article

HIV, Hepatitis B and C among people who inject drugs: High prevalence of HIV and Hepatitis C RNA positive infections observed in Delhi, India

India has large PWID (persons who inject drugs) population estimated at 177,000. PWIDs are at high risk for HIV, Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) infections. We report the prevalence of HIV, HBV and HCV infections and correlates of HIV-HCV co-infection among male PWIDs in Delhi.

3748 male PWIDs were recruited for a longitudinal HIV incidence study. Participants were tested for HBV and HCV infections at their first follow-up visit (FV1) using serum HBV-surface antigen, and HCV-antibody tests followed by HCV RNA PCR, respectively. All PWIDs who were HIV-negative at enrollment, were re-tested for HIV at FV1. Multinomial logistic regression was employed to identify predictors of HIV, HCV and HIV-HCV co-infection.

Overall prevalence of HIV, HBV and HCV among 2,292 participants tested at FV1 was 25.9 %, 9.7 % and 53.7 %, respectively. 6.4 % of the participants had HIV mono-infection, 34.1 % had HCV mono-infection, and 19.6 % had HIV-HCV co-infection. 26 % of HIV-positive participants without HCV were HBsAg positive.
In the regression model, having practiced at least one risky injection in the past month (relative risk ratio (RRR): 1.38; 95 % CI: 1.01-1.89) and not knowing his own HIV status (RRR: 1.65, 95 % CI: 1.25-2.17) were independent predictors for HIV-HCV co-infection. Longer duration of drug injections was associated with a higher likelihood of HCV mono-infection (2–5 years RRR: 2.13; 6–10 years RRR: 2.74; ≥11 years RRR: 3.14) and HIV-HCV co-infection (2–5 years RRR: 5.14; 6–10 years RRR: 8.53; >11 years RRR: 8.03). Higher frequency of injection days/month was associated with a higher likelihood of HCV mono-infection (≤10 days/month RRR: 1.61; 11–20 days/month RRR: 3.15; 21–30 days/month RRR: 3.47) and HIV-HCV co-infections (≤10 days/month RRR: 2.26; 11–20 days/month RRR: 3.46; 21–30 days/month RRR: 4.83).

We report a high prevalence of HIV, HCV and HIV-HCV co-infection among male PWIDs in Delhi. A tenth of the participants were HBsAg positive. Targeted Intervention programs should make HBV/HCV testing, prevention and care more accessible for PWIDs.