Injecting drug use: A vector for the introduction of new hepatitis C virus genotypes.World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Oct 14; 21(38):10811-23.WJ
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes' monitoring allows real-time insight into the dynamic changes that occur in the global epidemiological picture of HCV infection. Intravenous drug use is currently the primary driver for HCV transmission in developed and developing countries. The distribution of HCV genotypes/subtypes differs significantly between people who inject drugs (PWID) and the general population. HCV genotypes that previously exhibited a limited geographical distribution (3a, 4) are becoming more prevalent in this high-risk group. Immigration from HCV-endemic countries and the evolving networks of HCV transmission in PWID influence HCV genotypes distribution in Europe. Social vulnerabilities (e.g., unemployment, homelessness, and limited access to social and healthcare insurances systems) are important triggers for illicit drug use, which increases the associated risks of HCV infection and the frequent emergence of less prevalent genotypes. Genotype/subtype determination bears important clinical consequences in the progression of liver disease, susceptibility to antiviral therapies and the emergence of resistance-associated variants. An estimated half of the chronically HCV-infected PWID are unaware of their infection, and only one in ten of those diagnosed enter treatment. Nevertheless, PWID exhibit high response rates to new antiviral regimens, and the level of HCV reinfection is unexpectedly low. The focus of the healthcare system must be on the early detection and treatment of infection, to avoid late presentations that are associated with high levels of viremia and liver fibrosis, which may diminish the therapeutic success rate.