The hepatitis C virus epidemic among injecting drug users.
Pybus OG., Cochrane A., Holmes EC., Simmonds P.
Given the economic and health costs of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, and the ongoing transmission within the injecting drug user (IDU) population, there is a need for improved understanding of HCV epidemiology within this risk group. We employed a recently developed method based on phylogenetic analysis to infer HCV epidemic history and to provide the first estimates of the rate of spread of subtypes 1a and 3a circulating within injecting drug user populations. The data indicates that HCV subtype 1a entered the IDU population on at least three separate occasions. Both subtypes demonstrate exponential population growth during the 20th century, with a doubling time of 7-8 years. The results provide a baseline for prediction of the future course of the HCV epidemic, and its likely response to transmission control policies.