- Division of Epidemiology, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- School of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
Objective: Previous studies conducted on hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission have focused primarily on its transmission among people who inject drugs. However, there is evidence that transmission may also occur through the sharing of contaminated non-injection implements used to consume drugs nasally, orally, or by inhalation. Studies to date have not conclusively established a relationship between these routes of cocaine use and HCV. We quantified the association between cocaine use and HCV, specifically among individuals who have never injected an illicit substance.
Method: Data from the 2011-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were analyzed. Multivariable logistic regression was used to test for an association between cocaine use and HCV among 10,106 individuals (5,201 females). Covariates included age, race, sex, education, income, and immigrant status.
Results: In the unadjusted model, individuals who reported cocaine use had 4.79 (95% CI [2.70, 8.47]) times the odds of ever having HCV compared with those who did not use cocaine. In the adjusted model, individuals who reported cocaine use had 4.48 (95% CI [2.36, 8.50]) times the odds of ever having HCV compared with those who did not use cocaine.
Conclusions: This study highlights that individuals who report non-injection cocaine use have an inflated risk of HCV compared with individuals who report no cocaine use. Harm reduction interventions to reduce the transmission of HCV should therefore be targeted to all people who use drugs, including those who use cocaine orally, intra-nasally, and by inhalation.