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Factors associated with HIV and hepatitis C infection among regular and non-regular injection drug users in Baltimore

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This study explores the association of length of time (short or long term) of regular injection drug use, time to regular injection drug use after first use, and demographic factors with HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) infection prevalence.

Materials and methods

Data on 410 injection drug users (IDU) were from the International Neurobehavioral HIV Study, an epidemiological examination of neuropsychological, social, and behavioral risk factors of HIV and hepatitis A, B and C.


Long term IDUs were more likely to be infected with HCV (OR = 2.61) or HIV (OR = 2.60) compared to short term injectors. Those who became regular injectors the first week (OR = 3.44), a week to 6 months (OR = 3.92), or more than 6 months (OR = 3.00) after first use were more likely to be infected with HCV than those who never became regular users. Time to regular injection drug use was not associated with HIV infection.


Extant studies suggest drug users at HIV risk have an even greater risk of contracting HCV. Our study findings suggest that identifying injectors who progress from initiation to regular use rapidly are at heightened HCV risk and may benefit from targeted prevention interventions.

Author information

Correspondence to CM Graham.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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About this article


  • Hepatitis
  • Prevention Intervention
  • Injection Drug
  • Injection Drug User
  • Behavioral Risk