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Shared Drug Snorting Straws May Transmit Hepatitis C Virus

Findings among HCV-infected women reporting noninjection drug use

FRIDAY, July 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Sharing snorting straws for noninjection drug use may be a source for hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission, according to research published in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Noelle Fernandez, M.D., from University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, and colleagues anonymously surveyed 189 HCV-infected pregnant women seen at an obstetric high-risk clinic. The survey assessed modes of potential HCV transmission, including intravenous drug use, blood transfusion, organ transplant, sexual contact, tattoos, and snorting drugs with a straw.

The researchers found that 72 percent of the respondents admitted to intravenous drug use, of whom nearly two-thirds (65 percent) reported sharing needles. The majority of women (94 percent) admitted snorting drugs, nearly all of whom (92 percent) reported sharing straws. Fifteen percent of patients reported snorting drugs and sharing straws but denied any other risk factor except sexual contact. Fifty-four straws were confiscated by law enforcement authorities and nearly one-quarter of the straws (24 percent) tested positive for the presence of human blood.

“Sharing snorting utensils (straws) in noninjection drug use may be an additional risk factor for HCV and other virus transmission,” the authors write.

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