Since the majority of heroin abusers use injection as the primary route of admission, heroin abuse contributes significantly to the transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV). We determined HCV infection and its genotype distribution among injection heroin users in Wuhan, the largest city in the central China. Eight hundred seventy-eight (84%) out of 1046 serum specimens from the injection drug users were positive for HCV antibody. Out of randomly selected 122 specimens positive for HCV antibody, seventy-eight (64%) had detectable HCV RNA with genotype 6a as the predominant strain (50%), followed by 3b (32.2%), 1a (8.1%), 1b (6.5%), and 3a (3.2%). HCV RNA levels in male heroin users were significantly higher ( P = 0.013) than those in the female subjects. Although there was no significant difference in HCV RNA levels among the specimens positive for HCV 6a and 1a/1b, the samples with 6a or 1a/1b contained higher levels of HCV RNA than the specimens positive for HCV 3b ( P = 0.019, P = 0.012, respectively). These findings indicate that there is a high prevalence of HCV infection with genotypes 6a and 3b as predominated strains among injection heroin users in Wuhan, China.
Virus Research – Elsevier
Published: Jul 1, 2008
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