HCV non-1b genotypes in injecting drug users from Romania
Introduction: Chronic hepatitis C cases diagnosed in Romania were mostly related to unsafe parenteral treatments and blood transfusions; HCV genotype 1b was prevalent. During the last decade, an increasing number of HCV infections was reported among people who inject drugs (PWID). The aim of the current study was to test if this epidemiological shift triggered a diversification of the circulating viral strains.
Methodology: HCV genotypes were determined by reverse hybridization in 130 HCV-infected PWID (87.7% males; mean age 27.9 ± 6.7 years, injecting drugs for 8.1 ± 4.8 years).
Results: HIV-HCV co-infection was diagnosed in 80.8% of the subjects and 26.9% were HIV-HCV-HBV triple infected. Active HCV viral replication was present in 104 PWID (80%), more frequently in those HIV-co-infected (91.4% vs. 52% in HCV mono-infected, and 77.148.5% in HIV-HCV-HBV triple-infected, p = 0.0001). Non-1b genotypes were prevalent (54.8%), with subtype 1a the most commonly detected (24%), followed by genotypes 3a (14.4%) and 4 (7.7%). Mixed infections with genotypes 1a and 1b were found in nine subjects (8.7%). There was no difference in the genotypes frequencies based on HIV or HBV co-infection status, length of drug usage, or associated risk factors (tattoos, piercing, detention).
Conclusion: The continuous surveillance of HCV genotypes in PWID from Romania will add valuable information to the overall European epidemiological picture, with important therapeutic implications.
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