Due to the increasing number of infections related to injecting drug use, both the pattern of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission, and the circulating genotypes in Europe have changed. As there are little available data in this respect for Romania, the aim of our study was a preliminary analysis of the distribution of HCV genotypes circulating among injecting drug users (IDUs). Of the 45 IDUs evaluated (86.7% men, mean age − 27.6 ± 3.7 years, mean age at first drug use − 17.5 ± 3.9 years), 88.9% presented anti-HCV antibodies, with higher rates in those with an injecting history of more than 10 years; 57.8% of the subjects had detectable HCV viral load. Only 6.7% had markers of chronic hepatitis B infection, and none had anti-HIV antibodies. While HCV subtype 1b is still prevalent (in 50% of the viraemic subjects), other subtypes begin to emerge, especially in younger patients (1a - in 23.1%, 4 - in 11.5%, 3a - in 7.7% of the cases). These data indicate the possibility of major shifts in the distribution of the dominant subtype, underlining the need for close surveillance of HCV infections in IDUs, who can act as a bridging group toward the general population.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.