Using hepatitis C virus and herpes simplex virus-2 to track HIV among injecting drug users in New York City

Don C. Des Jarlais, Kamyar Arasteh, Courtney McKnight, Holly Hagan, David Perlman, Samuel R. Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To explore the potential utility of hepatitis C virus (HCV) seroprevalence as a biomarker for injection risk, and herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) as a biomarker for sexual risk among injecting drug users (IDUs). We examined the relationships between HCV and HIV and between HSV-2 and HIV among injecting drug users in New York City relative to the large-scale implementation of syringe exchange in the mid-1990s. Methods: 397 injecting drug users were recruited from a drug detoxification program in New York from 2005 to 2007. Informed consent was obtained, a questionnaire covering demographics, drug use and HIV risk was administered. Blood samples were tested for antibody to HIV, HCV and HSV-2. Results: Among all subjects, HIV prevalence was 17%, HCV prevalence 72% and HSV-2 prevalence 48%. Among IDUs who began injecting before 1995, HIV was 28%, HCV serostatus was strongly associated with HIV serostatus (AOR = 8.96, 95% CI 1.16-69.04) and HSV-2 serostatus was not associated with HIV serostatus (AOR = 1.31, 95% CI 0.64-2.67). Among subjects who began injecting in 1995 or later, HIV was 6%, HCV was not associated with HIV (AOR = 1.04, 95% CI 0.27-4.08) and HSV-2 serostatus was strongly related to HIV serostatus (AOR = 10.71, 95% CI 1.18-97.57). Conclusions: HCV and HSV-2 HCV and HSV-2 may provide important new tools for monitoring evolving HIV epidemics among IDUs. Reconsideration of the current CDC hierarchical transmission risk classification system may also be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-91
Number of pages4
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2009


  • AIDS
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis C
  • Herpes simplex virus-2
  • Injecting drug users
  • Substance abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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