#VP98: Trends In Social Injecting Behaviors And Hepatitis C Among People Who Inject Drugs In The San Diego Border Region As A Result Of The COVID-19 Pandemic: A Descriptive Analysis

Author: Lara Marquez Natasha Martin Steffanie Strathdee Britt Skaathun

Theme: Epidemiology and Public Health Research Year: 2021

Background: Travel restrictions to mitigate SARS-CoV-2 transmission decreased mobility and reduced physical contacts, yet social injecting trends and its potential impact on hepatitis C (HCV) transmission among people who inject drugs (PWID) are unclear. This analysis evaluated social injecting behaviors and selfreported HCV status among PWID in the San Diego Border Region. Methods: We evaluated baseline data between November 2020-April 2021 from the longitudinal La Frontera study, which recruited 3 groups of PWID: (1) PWID who cross the US-Mexico border for drug use in Tijuana, (2) non-border crossing PWID who live in San Diego and (3) live in Tijuana. We describe social injecting and HCV characteristics and compare the mean drug-related partners in the 14-day period before and during the pandemic using a paired sample t-test. Results: Among US PWID who reported ever injecting drugs in Mexico (40%); 91% traveled to Mexico to inject drugs since the border closure. While PWID reported more close injecting contacts pre-pandemic versus during the pandemic (mean: 6 vs 25% and HCV testing rates are low among PWID living and injecting drugs in Mexico. Disclosure of Interest Statement: LK Marquez has no disclosures to declare.

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