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Youn Jae Lee 1 Article
Epidemiology and treatment status of hepatitis C virus infection among people who have ever injected drugs in Korea: a prospective multicenter cohort study from 2007 to 2019 in comparison with non-PWID
Kyung-Ah Kim, Gwang Hyun Choi, Eun Sun Jang, Young Seok Kim, Youn Jae Lee, In Hee Kim, Sung Bum Cho, Moran Ki, Hwa Young Choi, Dahye Paik, Sook-Hyang Jeong
Epidemiol Health. 2021;43:e2021077.   Published online October 6, 2021
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2021077
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AbstractAbstract AbstractSummary PDF
Abstract
OBJECTIVES
Injection drug use is a major risk factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection; however, limited data on this topic are available in Korea. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the epidemiological and clinical characteristics, treatment uptake, and outcomes of HCV infection among people who inject drugs (PWID).
METHODS
We used the data from the Korea HCV cohort, which prospectively enrolled patients with HCV infection between 2007 and 2019. Clinical data and results of a questionnaire survey on lifetime risk factors for HCV infection were analyzed according to a self-reported history of injection drug use (PWID vs. non-PWID group).
RESULTS
Among the 2,468 patients, 166 (6.7%) were in the PWID group, which contained younger patients (50.6±8.2 vs. 58.2±13.1 years) and a higher proportion of male (81.9 vs. 48.8%) than the non-PWID group. The distribution of PWID showed significant regional variations. Exposure to other risk factors for HCV infection was different between the groups. The proportion of patients with genotype non-2 infection was higher in the PWID group. Treatment uptake was higher in the PWID group in the interferon era; however, it was comparable between the groups in the direct-acting antiviral era. The rate of sustained virological response did not significantly differ between the groups.
CONCLUSIONS
As of 2019, PWID constituted a minority of HCV-infected people in Korea. The epidemiological characteristics, but not treatment uptake and outcomes, were different between the PWID and non-PWID groups. Therefore, active HCV screening and treatment should be offered to PWID in Korea.
Summary
Korean summary
1. 국내 C형간염 환자 중 정맥주사 사용자의 비율은 6.7%로 서구에 비하면 낮은 편이며, 지역별로 차이가 있다. 2. C형간염 환자 중 정맥주사 사용자는 비사용자에 비하여 연령, 성별 및 C형간염 위험 요인 노출 등에서 상이한 역학적 특성을 보인다. 3. 정맥주사 사용자의 C형간염 치료 수용률이나 치료 성공률은 비사용자와 비슷하다.
Key Message
As of 2019, PWID comprised a minority (6.7%) of all HCV-infected people in South Korea. The epidemiological features of the PWID group were different from those of the non-PWID group in terms of age, sex and exposure to risk factors of HCV infection. However, the treatment uptake and outcomes were not significantly different between these 2 groups in DAA era. Therefore, considering the global and national increase in the number of PWID and the contribution of PWID to new cases of HCV infection, active screening and treatment should be offered to PWID in Korea.

Epidemiol Health : Epidemiology and Health