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Background: Hepatitis C Virus is an important cause of preventable morbidity and mortality among Injecting Drug Users worldwide. The aim of this study is to determine the prevalence and correlations of HCV infection among IDUs in Saudi Arabia.
Method: A point cross-sectional survey was conducted between May 2012 and Nov 2012 to determine hepatitis C viral antibodies serological status using venous blood among IDUs (N=300) accessing care at Al-Amal Hospital in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as to determine clinical correlates of hepatitis C infection among the Injecting Drug Users.
Results: There was an overall HCV prevalence of 42.7% among IDUs studied. Low level primary education, single marital status, being unemployed and commencing Injecting Drugs beyond the age of 15 years have higher specific prevalence of HCV among IDUs population. There was statistically significant association between clinical assessments of the participants who were abusing drugs generally, dependent on drugs, specifically abusing cocaine, amphetamines, opioids, cannabinoids and alcohol with HCV antibodies seropositivity. There was no statistical significant relationship between drug induced sleep/sexual disorder and psychosis/delusion with HCV seropositivity.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated a relatively high prevalence of HCV among IDUs in KSA. Targeted public health preventive strategies are necessary to halt the spread of HCV among IDUs in KSA. The resultant benefits of these will include reduction in morbidity and mortality as well as improved socioeconomic wellbeing of the IDU’s population.