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Epidemiol Health > Volume 43; 2021 > Article
Epidemiology and Health 2021;43: e2021077-0.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4178/epih.e2021077    Published online Oct 6, 2021.
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 Kim1  , Gwang Hyun Choi2  , Eun Sun Jang2  , Young Seok Kim3  , Youn Jae Lee4  , In Hee Kim5  , Sung Bum Cho6  , Moran Ki7  , Hwa Young Choi7  , Dahye Paik7  , Sook-Hyang Jeong2 
1Department of Internal Medicine, Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital, Goyang, Korea
2Department of Internal Medicine, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seongnam, Korea
3Department of Internal Medicine, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Bucheon, Korea
4Department of Internal Medicine, Inje University Busan Paik Hospital, Busan, Korea
5Department of Internal Medicine, Jeonbuk National University Hospital, Jeonju, Korea
6Department of Internal Medicine, Chonnam National University Hwasun Hospital, Hwasun, Korea
7Department of Cancer Control and Policy, Graduate School of Cancer Science and Policy, National Cancer Center, Goyang, Korea
Correspondence  Sook-Hyang Jeong ,Tel: 031-787-7034, Fax: 031-787-4052, Email: jsh@snubh.org
Received: Jun 9, 2021  Accepted after revision: Oct 6, 2021
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).
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).
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.
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.
Keywords: Hepatitis C, Drug users, Epidemiology, Treatment uptake
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