HCV Transmission and Non-Injecting Methods of Drug Use

"The mechanisms of HCV transmission among non-injecting drug users are not well understood[3]. This study identified six risk factors for HCV infection. Having a tattoo was associated with HCV infection. Commonly, a tattoo is identified as a risk factor for HCV infection in illicit-drug users[2, 6, 8]. Likely, this reflects the lifestyle of illicit-drug users, which could include greater exposure to HCV. Furthermore, the daily use of drugs, paraphernalia sharing during drug use, and a long history of drug use were also associated with HCV infection in non-injecting drug users. Few studies have reported the presence of HCV-RNA in the nasal secretions of cocaine and crack users, indicating a possible alternative route for the transmission of the virus – the sharing of the paraphernalia used to consume these drugs[4, 30]. One hypothesis to account for these cases involves intranasal transmission of HCV via contaminated implements, requiring two primary virological preconditions: the presence of blood and HCV in the nasal secretions of intranasal drug users, and the transfer of blood and HCV from the nasal cavity onto sniffing implements, which are often shared by intranasal drug users[4, 30]. In Pará, HCV transmission may be associated with and powered by three risk factors: daily use of drugs, paraphernalia sharing during drug use, and a long history of drug use (more than 5 years). To prove this hypothesis, other, more-specific studies will be needed in the future."

Source: 

Oliveira-Filho, A.B., Sawada, L., Pinto, L.C. et al. Epidemiological aspects of HCV infection in non-injecting drug users in the Brazilian state of Pará, eastern Amazon. Virol J 11, 38 (2014). doi.org/10.1186/1743-422X-11-38