Moderate/heavy alcohol use and HCV infection among injection drug users in two Russian cities
In Russia, injection drug use and transmission of blood-borne pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are inextricably linked, however the burden of alcohol use remains unexplored among injection drug users (IDUs).
Individuals who were 18 years of age and older and had injected drugs in the previous 30 days were recruited in the cities of Novosibirsk and Ivanovo by respondent driven sampling. Consenting individuals were administered a quantitative survey instrument and provided blood samples for serological testing.
In Novosibirsk and Ivanovo, 29% and 35% of respondents were categorized as moderate/heavy drinkers respectively. Individuals reported problems related to alcohol use that affected their physical health (23%), family (55%), and induced financial hardships (43%). In the multivariate analysis, we found that methamphetamine injection in the past 12 months was a strong and significant correlate of moderate/heavy drinking in Novosibirsk (aOR = 5.63 95% CI: [1.01–31.47]) and Ivanovo (aOR = 3.81 95% CI [2.20–6.62]). There was poor agreement between self-reported HCV status and HCV test results (kappa = −0.05 and 0.26 in Novosibirsk and Ivanovo respectively). IDUs who correctly knew their HCV seropositive status in Novosibirsk and IDUs who correctly knew their HCV seronegative status in Ivanovo were significantly more likely to be moderate/heavy drinkers.
Alcohol use is problematic among IDUs who are at high risk for HCV. Future interventions should target IDUs who are moderate/heavy drinkers in order to prevent liver complications resulting from HCV infection.