The Lancet (7/28/11): Globally 10 million intraveneous drug users (IDU) have HCV?


A recent study of IV drug users infected with HCV in Greece has found that each DU spread the disease to 20 other people.  They are called “superspreaders.”

In a BBC article, Charles Gore, chief executive of The Hepatitis C Trust and president of the World Hepatitis Alliance, said: “This study is potentially very important. “It needs to be said, however, that globally hepatitis C is not a drug users’ disease.  “Of the 150 million people living with the virus, only about 10 million are people who inject drugs, according to The Lancet. The vast majority of infections are the result of unsafe healthcare and we equally need to target prevention there.”

I’m trying to get a handle on some of the estimates and statistics about humans who inject themselves with illicit drugs, and humans with HCV.   Is it possible that the percentage of people who inject themselves with illicit drugs has not have changed very much as a percentage of the population of a country over the last 40 years?

According to today’s U. S. Census U. S. Population Clock, there are U.S. 315,267,926 people living in the United States.  The world’s population is 7,063,965,185.

WHO writes:  “HCV infections are common worldwide. It is estimated that about 3% of the world’s population have HCV. ”

Using Google calculator, I multiplied 7,063,965,185 x 3% = 211,918,955.

How many people in the world are estimated to be shooting illicit drugs?  The Lancet study Gore referenced, analyzed mega-data from 70 countries:  “Injecting drug use is an important public health issue around the world: 16 million people injected drugs in 2007 (range 11—21 million).”

lancet hcv map

Image from Lancet

They write, “Despite the higher prevalence and transmissibility of viral hepatitis, the disease has received far less global attention than has HIV.” ” After extrapolation to all countries, we estimated that about 10.0 million IDUs (range 6.0—15.2) in 2010 were anti-HCV positive; a midpoint prevalence of 67.0% in IDUs globally).” (Data from all countries was not available.)

The Lancet article is free on Pubmed but requires registration to read on the Lancet website.  Lancet. 2011 Aug 13;378(9791):571-83. Jul 27.

Title: Global epidemiology of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in people who inject drugs: results of systematic reviews.

 

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