High prevalence of alcohol use among hepatitis C virus antibody positive injection drug users in three US cities

Jennifer V. Campbell, Holly Hagan, Mary H. Latka, Richard S. Garfein, Elizabeth T. Golub, Micaela H. Coady, David L. Thomas, Steffanie A. Strathdee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Injection drug users (IDUs) acquire the majority of new hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections and frequently use alcohol. Alcohol abuse accelerates liver disease among HCV-infected persons, can reduce the effectiveness of treatment for HCV infection and may be a contraindication for HCV treatment. HCV seropositive, HIV-negative IDUs aged 18-35 years in Baltimore, New York City and Seattle who were enrolled in a behavioral risk-reduction intervention trial underwent computerized self-interviews to assess baseline alcohol use and dependence and medical history. We measured problem alcohol use using the 10-item Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) scale. Of 598 participants, 84% responded "false" to: "it is safe for a person with HCV to drink alcohol". Problem drinking, defined as score ≥8 on AUDIT, was identified in 37%. Correlates of scoring ≥8 on AUDIT included homelessness, male gender, primarily injecting speedballs, having injected with used needles, prior alcohol treatment and depression. Although most HCV seropositive IDUs in our sample appear informed about their increased risk of liver disease from alcohol, two-fifths screened positive for problem alcohol use. These findings underscore the importance of referring HCV-positive persons to effective alcohol treatment programs to reduce future liver damage and improve eligibility for and effectiveness of treatment of HCV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-265
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 28 2006


  • Alcohol
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Injection drug users

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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