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      A national cross-sectional study among drug-users in France: epidemiology of HCV and highlight on practical and statistical aspects of the design

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          Epidemiology of HCV infection among drug users (DUs) has been widely studied. Prevalence and sociobehavioural data among DUs are therefore available in most countries but no study has taken into account in the sampling weights one important aspect of the way of life of DUs, namely that they can use one or more specialized services during the study period. In 2004–2005, we conducted a national seroepidemiologic survey of DUs, based on a random sampling design using the Generalised Weight Share Method (GWSM) and on blood testing.


          A cross-sectional multicenter survey was done among DUs having injected or snorted drugs at least once in their life. We conducted a two stage random survey of DUs selected to represent the diversity of drug use. The fact that DUs can use more than one structure during the study period has an impact on their inclusion probabilities. To calculate a correct sampling weight, we used the GWSM. A sociobehavioral questionnaire was administered by interviewers. Selected DUs were asked to self-collect a fingerprick blood sample on blotting paper.


          Of all DUs selected, 1462 (75%) accepted to participate. HCV seroprevalence was 59.8% [95% CI: 50.7–68.3]. Of DUs under 30 years, 28% were HCV seropositive. Of HCV-infected DUs, 27% were unaware of their status. In the month prior to interview, 13% of DUs shared a syringe, 38% other injection parapharnelia and 81% shared a crack pipe. In multivariate analysis, factors independently associated with HCV seropositivity were age over 30, HIV seropositivity, having ever injected drugs, opiate substitution treatment (OST), crack use, and precarious housing.


          This is the first time that blood testing combined to GWSM is applied to a DUs population, which improve the estimate of HCV prevalence. HCV seroprevalence is high, indeed by the youngest DUs. And a large proportion of DUs are not aware of their status. Our multivariate analysis identifies risk factors such as crack consumption and unstable housing.

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          Most cited references 62

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          The prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in the United States, 1988 through 1994.

          Because many persons with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are asymptomatic, population-based serologic studies are needed to estimate the prevalence of the infection and to develop and evaluate prevention efforts. We performed tests for antibody to HCV (anti-HCV) on serum samples from 21,241 persons six years old or older who participated in the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted during 1988 through 1994. We determined the prevalence of HCV RNA by means of nucleic acid amplification and the genotype by means of sequencing. The overall prevalence of anti-HCV was 1.8 percent, corresponding to an estimated 3.9 million persons nationwide (95 percent confidence interval, 3.1 million to 4.8 million) with HCV infection. Sixty-five percent of the persons with HCV infection were 30 to 49 years old. Seventy-four percent were positive for HCV RNA, indicating that an estimated 2.7 million persons in the United States (95 percent confidence interval, 2.4 million to 3.0 million) were chronically infected, of whom 73.7 percent were infected with genotype 1 (56.7 percent with genotype 1a, and 17.0 percent with genotype 1b). Among subjects 17 to 59 years of age, the strongest factors independently associated with HCV infection were illegal drug use and high-risk sexual behavior. Other factors independently associated with infection included poverty, having had 12 or fewer years of education, and having been divorced or separated. Neither sex nor racial-ethnic group was independently associated with HCV infection. In the United States, about 2.7 million persons are chronically infected with HCV. People who use illegal drugs or engage in high-risk sexual behavior account for most persons with HCV infection.
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            Review of sampling hard-to-reach and hidden populations for HIV surveillance.

            Adequate surveillance of hard-to-reach and 'hidden' subpopulations is crucial to containing the HIV epidemic in low prevalence settings and in slowing the rate of transmission in high prevalence settings. For a variety of reasons, however, conventional facility and survey-based surveillance data collection strategies are ineffective for a number of key subpopulations, particularly those whose behaviors are illegal or illicit. This paper critically reviews alternative sampling strategies for undertaking behavioral or biological surveillance surveys of such groups. Non-probability sampling approaches such as facility-based sentinel surveillance and snowball sampling are the simplest to carry out, but are subject to a high risk of sampling/selection bias. Most of the probability sampling methods considered are limited in that they are adequate only under certain circumstances and for some groups. One relatively new method, respondent-driven sampling, an adaptation of chain-referral sampling, appears to be the most promising for general applications. However, as its applicability to HIV surveillance in resource-poor settings has yet to be established, further field trials are needed before a firm conclusion can be reached.
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              Substance use and risky sexual behavior for exposure to HIV. Issues in methodology, interpretation, and prevention.

               B Leigh,  R E Stall (1993)
              Recent reports have suggested that the use of alcohol or drugs is related to sexual behavior that is high risk for HIV infection. If substance use leads to unsafe sexual activity, understanding the dynamics of this relationship can contribute to research and preventive and educational efforts to contain the spread of AIDS. In this article, we review research on the relationship between substance use and high-risk sexual behavior. We then consider the inherent limitations of the research designs used to study this relationship, outline some methodological concerns including measurement and sampling issues, and comment on causal interpretations of correlational research findings. We end with a consideration of potential avenues for future research and a discussion of implications of these findings for current AIDS prevention policies.

                Author and article information

                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central
                16 July 2009
                : 9
                : 113
                [1 ]Infectious Diseases Departement, National Institute for Public Health Surveillance, Saint-Maurice, France
                [2 ]Center for Research in Psychotropics, Health, Mental Health and Society, UMR CNRS 8136, University Paris Descartes, Inserm U611, Paris, France
                [3 ]François-Rabelais University, Inserm ERI 19 and CHU Bretonneau, National Reference Center for HIV, Tours, France
                [4 ]National Institute of Demographic Studies, Paris, France
                Copyright ©2009 Jauffret-Roustide et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Research Article

                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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