Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2019
Background: Since the mid 2000s, many injecting drug users from Eastern Europe (especially from
Georgia) have migrated to France, fleeing repressive drug policy in their home country and seeking
easier access to substitutive treatment and HCV treatment in France. In the Paris metropolitan area,
approximately a third of patients who attended harm reduction facilities or treatment centers came
from Eastern Europe and Russian-speaking countries.
Method: We conducted a cross-sectional study among Russian-speaking people who inject drugs and
who attend harm reduction facilities in Paris (N=150) along with sociological interviews (N=20). Our
goal was to establish socio-demographic profiles and to learn about drug use practices, risk exposure
to HCV, and level of access to care.
Results: Results show that HCV seroprevalence among Russian-speaking PWIDs is alarmingly high
(89%). Eastern European PWIDs are highly educated (43% have an academic background), but they
live in highly precarious conditions (90% have no stable accommodation). The majority of Russianspeaking PWIDs came from Georgia (58%). Our qualitative survey shows that their motives for
migration included criminalization of drug use in their home country and access to HCV care in
France — many thought France provided PWID with easier access to HCV care. Our epidemiological
survey shows that only 58% have access to care for HCV and 18% receive HCV treatment.
Conclusion: When they migrate to France, Russian-speaking drug users undergo significant decline in
social status following their migration experience. The sociological survey shows that they are very
willing to enter into HCV treatment but that they sometimes face discrimination. These
epidemiological and sociological data show that it is urgent to improve access to care and social
integration for all sub-populations of drug users, especially those vulnerable to HCV infection.
Disclosure of interest statement: Dr Jauffret-Roustide received grants from the French National
Agency of HIV and Hepatitis Research. No conflict of interest to declare.