HIV and HBV infection in intravenous drug addicts from Northeastern Italy

D. Conte, P. Ferroni, G. P. Lorini, G. P. Aimo, C. Mandelli, M. Cesana, L. Brunelli, G. C. Bignotti, P. A. Bianchi, A. R. Zanetti

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Three hundred and two intravenous drug addicts (IVDA) from five towns in Northeastern Italy were studied. Of the males, 37/249 (14.8%) were homosexuals and of the females, 29/53 (54.7%) were prostitutes; 118 (39.0%) were alcoholics. AST levels were abnormal in 31.8%, ALT in 45.7%, GTP in 36.4%, and bilirubin in 14.6%. The prevalence of HBsAg (13.9%) and HBeAg (21.4% of HBsAg positive) was significantly higher than in 2,983 controls (4.2% and 6.3%, p <.001 and p <.02, respectively). Of the HBsAg positive subjects, 51.7% had anti-HDV antibodies. Among 260 HBsAg negative cases, 146 (56.2%) were anti-HBs and anti-HBc positive, 76 (29.2%) were anti-HBc positive and anti-HBs negative (25 anti-HBe positive and 51 anti-HBe negative), and 38 had no HBV markers. Anti-HIV ELISA positive subjects came to 70.5% (triplicate determination with absolute concordance) and Western blot analysis confirmed the results in 99.1% of ELISA positive and 100% of ELISA negative subjects. The prevalence of anti-HIV was significantly higher in anti-HBc positive than negative cases (p <.02), even excluding HBsAg positive subjects. Cases negative for HIV and HBV had a significantly lower median duration of drug abuse than those with past or present infection (36 vs 60 months, p <.001). HIV-related diseases were present in 56.3% of the cases (120/213; PGL in 94, ARC in 24, and AIDS in two). The absolute T4 + cell count correlated inversely with the prevalence and severity of HIV-related diseases-9/10 had less than 400 T4+ cells/ml (one PGL, seven ARC, and one AIDS), 33/47 had 400-800 T4+ cells/ml (27 PGL, five ARC, and one AIDS), and 25/40 had over 800 T4+ cells/ml (25 PGL). Geographical differences were observed in the distribution of the ratio between symptomatic/infected cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology

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    Conte, D., Ferroni, P., Lorini, G. P., Aimo, G. P., Mandelli, C., Cesana, M., Brunelli, L., Bignotti, G. C., Bianchi, P. A., & Zanetti, A. R. (1987). HIV and HBV infection in intravenous drug addicts from Northeastern Italy. Journal of Medical Virology, 22(4), 299-306.