Background: Infection with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is prevalent among injection drug users (IDU). HCV serosorting, sharing injection equipment with persons of like HCV status, may potentially reduce risk.
Objectives: Using data from the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance in Denver, we examined the association between self-reported HCV status and participants’ knowledge of the HCV status of their last sharing partner.
Methods: Between July 2005 and February 2006, IDU were recruited using respondent-driven sampling. Participants were asked about the last time they “shared” with a partner in the preceding 12 months. “Shared” was defined as shared needles, works, or water for rinsing needles or preparing drugs, or shared drugs by using a syringe to divide them up. Participants who reported knowing that their last sharing partner had been tested for HCV were asked if they knew the results of that test. Responses were examined separately for sharing partners who were also sexual partners and for those who were non-sexual partners.
Results: Of 503 participants who completed the survey, 163 reported knowing that their most recent sharing and sexual partner had been tested for HCV, of which 78 (48%) knew the result was positive and 30 (18%) knew the result was negative. HCV positive participants were significantly more likely to report that their most recent sharing and sexual partner was also positive [Prevalence Ratio (PR)=3.2, 95% Confidence Interval (CI): 1.7, 6.3]. A total of 239 participants reported knowing that their most recent sharing partner who was not also a sexual partner had been tested, of which 95 (40%) were positive and 39 (16%) were negative. The association was similar, with positive participants more likely to report HCV positive non-sexual sharing partners [PR=2.0, 95% CI: 1.4, 3.0].
Conclusions: Some HCV-infected IDU may be seorsorting to reduce risk.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: Serosorting as a harm reduction strategy is worthy of further investigation.