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Publication date: 
September 20, 2016


Previous estimates of the burden of HIV, hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people who inject drugs have not included estimates of the burden attributable to the consequences of past injecting. We aimed to provide these estimates as part of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) Study 2013.


We modeled the burden of HBV and HCV (including cirrhosis and liver cancer burden) and HIV at the country, regional, and global level. We extracted United Nations data on the proportion of notified HIV cases by transmission route, and estimated the contribution of injecting drug use (IDU) to HBV and HCV disease burden by use of a cohort method that recalibrated individuals' history of IDU, and accumulated risk of HBV and HCV due to IDU. We estimated data on current IDU from a meta-analysis of HBV and HCV incidence among injecting drug users and country-level data on the incidence of HBV and HCV between 1990 and 2013. We calculated estimates of burden of disease through years of life lost (YLL), years of life lived with disability (YLD), deaths, and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), with 95% uncertainty intervals (UIs) calculated for each metric.


In 2013, an estimated 10.08 million DALYs were attributable to previous exposure to HIV, HBV, and HCV via IDU, a four-times increase since 1990. In total in 2013, IDU was estimated to cause 4.0% (2.82 million DALYs, 95% UI 2.4 million to 3.8 million) of DALYs due to HIV, 1.1% (216,000, 101,000–338,000) of DALYs due to HBV, and 39.1% (7.05 million, 5.88 million to 8.15 million) of DALYs due to HCV. IDU-attributable HIV burden was highest in low-to-middle-income countries, and IDU-attributable HCV burden was highest in high-income countries.


IDU is a major contributor to the global burden of disease. Effective interventions to prevent and treat these important causes of health burden need to be scaled up.


Degenhardt L, Charlson F, Stanaway J, Larney S, Alexander LT, Hickman M, Cowie B, Hall WD, Strang J, Whiteford H, Vos T. Estimating the burden of disease attributable to injecting drug use as a risk factor for HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013The Lancet Infectious Diseases. 2016 Sept 20.