Risk of Viral Hepatitis B and C Among Young Adolescents Who Inject Drugs: A Future Public Health Challenge

Varada Jayant Madge


Background: Adolescents are vulnerable populations and due to lack of health information on injecting drugs and viral hepatitis, it is likely that they could engage into unsafe injection and sexual practices that could be risky for their health.

Aim: The present paper is an attempt to explore the risky patterns that make adolescents vulnerable to Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Hepatitis C Virus (HCV). The adolescents were part of the intervention, “Prevention and Early Management of Hepatitis B and C among high risk group in Amritsar and Imphal, India”, that was conducted from October 2014 till January 2018

Material and methods: In this intervention, 29 [out of 1700 People Who Inject Drugs (PWID] were adolescents. Risk assessment tool was used to monitor their health condition and adherence to harm reduction practices. Since the number was small, simple frequency distribution (number and per cent) was used to analyse the data and numbers are used to elucidate the overall results.

Results: Overall the findings showed that out of 29 adolescents, 25 of them were actively engaged in sexual practices and most of them did not use protective mechanisms like condoms. Seven were injecting more than 30 shots per day and eight adolescents mentioned that they shared needles. Three adolescents in this intervention, were diagnosed with HCV positive and were linked to treatment during the project period. Four adolescents showed symptoms of STI and were treated for the same in the past one year.

Conclusion: The findings suggests targeting the young population for intervention by providing continuous education sessions on harm reduction practices and follow up to reduce the risk of transmission of HBV and HCV.

Key words: HBV, HCV, PWID, adolescent, education session and risk assessment

Full Text:

Word Document



Nelson PK et al. Global epidemiology of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in people who inject drugs: results of systematic reviews. Lancet. 2011; 378(9791): 571–583

The Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health: Survive, Thrive and Transform, 2016-2030, Available at: http://www.who.int/life-course/partners/global-strategy/globalstrategyreport2016-2030-lowres.pdf, accessed online on March 2018

Injecting Drug Users Among Under 18s: A Snapshot of Available Data. Harm Reduction International Reports. 2013. Available at: https://www.hri.global/files/2014/08/06/injecting_among_under_18s_snapshot_WEB.pdfaccessed online on January 2018.

Injecting Drug Users Among Under 18s: A Snapshot of Available Data. Harm Reduction International Reports. 2013. Available at: https://www.hri.global/files/2014/08/06/injecting_among_under_18s_snapshot_WEB.pdf, accessed online on January 2018

Anju Dhawan, Raman Deep Pattanayak, Anita Chopra, Vinod Kumar Tikoo, and Rajesh Kumar (2016), “Injection drug use among children and adolescents in India: Ringing the alarm bells”, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, vol 58, number 4, pp: 387–393.

Des Jarlais DC, et al. Variability in the Incidence of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Hepatitis B Virus, and Hepatitis C Virus Infection among Young Injecting Drug Users in New York City. Am. J. Epidemiol. 2003; 157(5): 467-471 doi: 10.1093/aje/kwf222. Available online: http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/157/5/467.full#T2 Accessed: 2 October 2013

Sunil Suhas Solomon, Shruti H Mehta, Aylur K Srikrishnan, Suniti Solomon, Allison M McFall, Oliver Laeyendecker, David D Celentano, Syed H Iqbal, Santhanam Anand, Canjeevaram K Vasudevan, Shanmugam Saravanan, Gregory M Lucas, Muniratnam S Kumar, Mark S Sulkowski, Thomas C Quinn (2015), “Burden of hepatitis C virus disease and access to hepatitis C virus services in people who inject drugs in India: A cross-sectional study”, Lancet Infectious Diseases, vol 15, pp:36-45

Michelle Kermode, Amenla Nuken, Gajendra Kumar Medhi, Brogen Singh Akoijam, H. Umesh Sharma, and Jagadish Mahanta (2016), “High burden of hepatitis C & HIV co-infection among people who inject drugs in Manipur, Northeast India”, Indian Journal of Medical Research”, vol 143, number 3, pp: 348-356.

HIV and young people who inject drugs: Technical brief, Available at: http://www.who.int/hiv/pub/toolkits/hiv-young-idu/en/, accessed online on April 2018

HIV and Young People Who Inject Drugs. Technical Brief. 2015. Available at: http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/2015_young_people_drugs_en.pdf, accessed online on April 2018.

Hepatitis B Virus: Epidemiology and Transmission Risk, Emergency Medical Injuries Guidelines, Available at- http://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/EMIToolkit/appendices/app21-27.pdf, accessed online on January 2018

http://www.unaids.org/sites/default/files/media_asset/2015_young_people_drugs_en.pdf, accessed online on January 2018

Anju Dhawan, Raman Deep Pattanayak, Anita Chopra, Vinod Kumar Tikoo, Rajesh Kumar (2016), “Injecting Drug Use Among Children And Adolescents in India: Ringing The Alarm Bells”, Indian Journal of Psychiatry, vol 58, issue 4, pp: 387-393

Mennis Jeremy and Mason Michael (2010), “Social and geographic contexts of adolescent substance use: The moderating effects of age and gender”, Elsevier, vol 34, pp: 150-157.

What are the complications of Chronic Heroin Use, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Available at https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-medical-complications-chronic-heroin-use, accessed online on January 2018


Please feel free to comment on this article:

blog comments powered by Disqus

Editorial Offices:

Department of Family and Social Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center
Bronx, New York, 10461

Asociación Latinoamericana de Medicina Social (ALAMES)/Latin American Social Medicine Association:
ALAMES, Southern Cone Region, Cassinoni 1440 – 802, CP 11200 Montevideo, Uruguay.
ALAMES, Mexico Region, San Jerónimo 70 – 1, Col. La Otra Banda, CP 01090, México, D.F.