Injection Risk Behaviors And Hcv Infection Among Young Opioid Injectors In New York City: A Challenge For HCV Elimination

Author: Mateu-Gelabert P, Guarino H, Teubl J, Quin, K, Friedman SR

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2018

The ongoing opioid epidemic has led to an expansion of the population of young people who
inject drugs (PWID). This new generation of young PWID is vulnerable to HCV and HIV infection
through the use of non-sterile injection equipment.
539 opioid users aged 18-29 who had used opioids (POs or heroin) in the past 30 days were
recruited via Respondent-Driven Sampling. Analyses are based on the 353 participants who
ever injected drugs. Variables were assessed via self-report, except HCV and HIV status
established via rapid antibody testing.
PWID were 34% female, 73% White/non-Latino (mean age 24 y/o). 59% reported household
income while growing up greater than $50,000. Participants initiated heroin injection at the
mean age of 20.4 y/o. 40% of lifetime PWID reported receptive syringe-sharing and 60%
reported sharing cookers in the past 12 months. 30% tested positive for HCV, 3 (0.85%) for HIV.
In multivariable analysis, testing HCV-positive was associated with lifetime homelessness,
injecting with 8 or more people in past 3 months, having been incarcerated 3 or more times and
injecting 7+years. In a separate analysis, knowing any opioid user(s) older than 29 was
associated with testing HCV-positive.
Despite the high coverage of harm reduction services in NYC many young PWID engage in
risky injection practices and associate with older injectors who may expose them to HCV.
Prevention efforts should expand early access to Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use
Disorder and develop new strategies to engage young PWID in harm reduction services.
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
This research is funded by U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Institute on Drug
Abuse (NIDA) grants R01DA035146 and R01DA041501. No conflict of interest to disclose.

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