Background - The spread of human immunodeficiency VIRUS (HIV), HEPATITIS B VIRUS (HBV) and HEPATITIS C VIRUS (HCV) continues at an alarming rate worldwide. This pandemic has created a dramatic, often devastating, impact on many countries including Iran. Due to the similar route of transmission of HIV, HBV and HCV, intravenous drug abusers are considered one of the leading high-risk groups. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence rate of these VIRUSes and associated risk factors among intravenous drug addicts in Zanjan prisoners.
Methods - This was a cross-sectional investigation conducted in 2001. The study population included 346 drug addict prisoners in Zanjan. Data were collected through interview and blood testing for HIV, HBV and HCV. All blood samples were examined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Samples positive for HIV were confirmed using Western blot.
Results - The prevalence of HIV infection was 1.2%, HBV 3.8% and HCV 47.7%. Intravenous injection, homosexuality and tattooing were, statistically, significantly associated with HIV-, HBV- and HCV-positivity, separately and cumulatively.
Conclusion - Taking into account the similarities that exist among the routes of transmission of these VIRUSes and the high rate of infection with HCV in the population studied, it can be predicted that the rate of infection with HBV and HIV will tend to increase. Accordingly, preventive and health education programs are essential.