Risk factors for HBV/HIV/HCV in drug addicts: a survey of attendees of a Department of Pathological Dependence


Introduction. This study aims to determine risk factors for the acquisition of HIV, HBV and HCV infections among Injection Drug Users (IDUs) who attended the out-patient clinic of the Department of Pathological Dependence at Bari Hospital in Bari Province (Italy). Methods. The study was conducted in the year 2008 using the information available in the out-patient files of 291 drug addicts who were undergoing treatment. Results. Their average age was 29.3 and 133 (45.7%) of them were affected by HIV/ HBV/ HCV. The use of injected heroin, being separated or divorced, and having committed a crime were found to be risk factors for infection by HIV/ HBV/ HCV, while having a school diploma or a university degree and the use of cannabinoids were negatively associated with the infective diseases. Discussion and conclusions. While the data from the Italian Departments of Pathological Dependence concerning HIV diffusion in treated patients have been showing a reduction in the number of cases of seropositivity, drug addiction in industrialized countries is still the second most important risk factor, after promiscuous sexual behaviour, for infection by parenteral transmission. Correct risk assessment is essential for the planning of effective strategies for primary and secondary prevention.