At a time when the rates of HIV, hepatitis C virus (HCV), and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections have risen among injection drug users (IDUs) in other countries in the region, little is known about the prevalence of these infections among Bulgarian injectors and about their sexual risk behaviours. IDUs (n = 773) in a community-based needle exchange programme (NEP) and two major drug treatment facilities in Sofia completed a structured interview and were tested for HIV, HBV, and HCV antibodies. While HCV prevalence in the sample was 73.9%, HBV and HIV prevalence was low -6% and 0.5%, respectively. Having more than 10 sexual partners, having sex with someone with hepatitis C or another IDU, and never using a condom with another IDU were common among those who were recruited through NEP. As 40% of the IDUs reported using NEP, it appears that needle exchange provides an opportunity to reach high-risk populations and prevent sexual transmission of blood-borne pathogens.
- Needle exchange
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases
- Pharmacology (medical)