New Research Proves That Hepatitis C Can Be Transferred Through Shared Straws

Most heroin users who contract the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) do so through shared needles or other injection paraphernalia. However, about 20 percent of heroin users who contract Hepatitis C do not use needles, and it has been long suspected that the liver disease was transferable via drug sniffing straws.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse funded researchers to investigate the possibility of nasal transmission of HCV:

  • Researchers recruited 38 intra-nasal drug users who had with chronic and active HCV.
  • The researchers collected mucus samples from each of the subjects, and found blood in 74 percent of the samples, and HCV without the presence of blood in 13 percent of the samples.
  • The researchers then had the subjects use straws to mimic the use of drugs, sniffing in air through a straw. The straws were then tested, and blood was found on 8 percent of the straws and HCV within mucus on 5 percent.

The presence of blood and HCV in mucus on the straws suggests that the virus could be transferred through the sharing of straws that are used to sniff drugs.

The subjects had high incidence rates of nasal inflammation, nose bleeding, and inner nose damage -- physical problems typically seen in intranasal drug users, which the researchers suspect increases the transmission rate.

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