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Women who inject drugs may be at greater risk of HCV than men

Science Spotlight

August 25, 2017

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There is a clear body of research assessing sex and gender differences in risk behaviors among people who inject drugs, however little or no research has investigated sex differences in hepatitis C (HCV) susceptibility. A newly published analysis examining data from more than 1800 people suggests that women who inject drugs have a 38% higher risk of contracting HCV than their male counterparts. Interestingly, while sharing of syringes and other injection equipment is a significant risk factor for HCV, differences in these behaviors did not account for the higher risk among women. The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National institutes of Health.

The analysis used data from the International Collaboration of Incident HIV and HCV in Injecting Cohorts, a project of pooled biological and behavioral data from ten prospective cohorts of people who inject drugs, including the United States, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands. This study includes data from seven of the 10 cohorts.

The results underscore the need for research to better understand the behavioral, social and biological factors that contribute to higher HCV susceptibility in women. For example, it is unclear why enrollment in medication assisted treatment programs for opioid addiction reduced the risk for contracting HCV to a greater extent in men than in women. In addition, studies are needed to determine if differences in hormonal activity or immune cell composition between the sexes contribute to these findings. Understanding the reasons behind the difference in risk can help with future, more tailored HCV prevention approaches by the public health community.

For a copy of the paper, go to "The effect of female sex on hepatitis C incidence among people who inject drugs: results from the international multi-cohort InC3 Collaborative," published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

For more information about hepatitis and substance use, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/viral-hepatitis-very-real-consequence-substance-use.

For more information about women and drugs, go to: https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/women-drugs.

For more information, contact the NIDA press office at media@nida.nih.gov or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook

Contact:
NIDA Press Office
301-443-6245
media@nida.nih.gov

About the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to inform policy, improve practice, and advance addiction science. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs and information on NIDA research and other activities can be found at www.drugabuse.gov, which is now compatible with your smartphone, iPad or tablet. To order publications in English or Spanish, call NIDA’s DrugPubs research dissemination center at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or 240-645-0228 (TDD) or email requests to drugpubs@nida.nih.gov. Online ordering is available at drugpubs.drugabuse.gov. NIDA’s media guide can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/publications/media-guide/dear-journalist, and its easy-to-read website can be found at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov. You can follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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    NIDA. (2017, August 25). Women who inject drugs may be at greater risk of HCV than men. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2017/08/women-who-inject-drugs-may-be-greater-risk-hcv-than-men

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