Prevalence of Hepatitis B and C, HIV, and Syphilis Among People Who Inject Drugs in Germany – Results of a Pilot Study For a Periodical National Monitoring System

Author: Amrei Krings Gyde Steffen Ruth Zimmermann

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2022

To support and monitor the viral hepatitis/HIV/STI elimination process in Germany, up-to-date
prevalence and behavioural data in key populations are needed on a regular basis. We piloted a
future monitoring system among people who inject drugs (PWID) with the DRUCK 2.0 study in two
federal states in Germany.
PWID aged 16+ years who injected drugs within the last 12 months were recruited by time location
sampling via low threshold drug services and opioid substitution treatment (OST) practices during
routine services in Berlin and Bavaria between 01/06/2021 and 28/02/2022. All participants were
tested for hepatitis B and C (HBV, HCV), HIV and syphilis from capillary dried blood spots and filled a
questionnaire regarding sociodemographics, behaviour and access to testing/treatment, receiving a
10 Euro voucher as incentive.
In total 495 PWID were included, median age of participants was 39 years [range 18-66], 68%
(336/494) were male, and 23% (114/492) were born outside Germany, mostly in eastern Europe.
Injecting drug use within the last 30 days was reported by 82% (405/491), unsafe use by 58%
(275/477). Detention was experienced by 77% (372/485), and 62% (304/487) were currently under
OST. The prevalence was 74% (362/490) for HCV antibodies, 26% (130/490) for HCV RNA, 17%
(80/482) for cured HBV, 1.2% (6/483) for active HBV, 2.7% (13/482) for HIV and 2.1% (10/473) for
previous Syphilis. Presence of Anti-HBs indicating HBV vaccination was 24% (115/475). Previously
HCV tested were 95% (453/475). Eighty-eight percent (268/304) of participants with HCV antibodies
knew about a previous/current HCV infection and 57% (164/288) reported previous/current
To decrease the heavy burden of viral hepatitis and HIV among highly vulnerable PWID in Germany,
barriers to HCV treatment, HBV vaccination, and harm reduction need to be resolved. Future
monitoring will help to continuously guide the elimination progress among PWID in Germany.
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
AK has no conflict of interest to declare.
GS has no conflict of interest to declare.
RZ has no conflict of interest to declare.

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