Epidemiology and infection vol:133 issue:1 pages:127-136
The prevalence of hepatitis C and related risk factors in drug users were compared in two geographic regions in Belgium, the city of Antwerp and the mixed urban-rural area of Limburg. All 310 participants were surveyed and screened for hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Prevalence rates of anti-HCV, anti-HBc and anti-HIV were 71, 62 and 4% in Antwerp and 46, 21 and 0% in Limburg respectively. Injecting drug use, duration of injecting drug use, work as a commercial sex-worker, originating from Turkey or Northern Africa, marginalization and anti-HBc positivity were identified as independent predictors for hepatitis C infection. In this study an important difference in HCV seroprevalence among drug users in a methadone maintenance programme across two geographic regions in Belgium was demonstrated. This was explained not only by variations in drug-related risk behaviour, but also by differences in sexual risk behaviour and socio-economic status.