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Understanding HCV transmission among people who inject drugs (PWID) is important for designing prevention strategies. This study investigated whether HCV infection among younger injectors occurs from few or many transmission events from older injectors to younger injectors among PWID in Vancouver, Canada.HCV antibody positive participants at enrolment or follow-up (1996-2012) were tested for HCV RNA and sequenced (Core-E2). Time-stamped phylogenetic trees were inferred using Bayesian Evolutionary Analysis Sampling Trees (BEAST). Association of age with phylogeny was tested using statistics implemented in the software Bayesian Tip Significance (BaTS) testing. Factors associated with clustering (maximum cluster age: five years) were identified using logistic regression.Among 699 participants with HCV subtype 1a, 1b, 2b and 3a infection (26% female, 24% HIV+): 21% were younger (<27years), and 10% had recent HCV seroconversion. When inferred cluster age was limited to <5years, 15% (n=108) were in clusters/pairs. Although a moderate degree of segregation was observed between younger and older participants, there was also transmission between age groups. Younger age (<27 vs. >40, AOR: 3.14; 95% CI: 1.54, 6.39), HIV (AOR: 1.97; 95% CI: 1.22, 3.18) and subtype 3a (AOR: 2.12; 95% CI: 1.33, 3.38) were independently associated with clustering.In this population of PWID from Vancouver, HCV among young injectors was seeded from many transmission events between HCV-infected older and younger injectors. Phylogenetic clustering was associated with younger age and HIV. These data suggest that HCV transmission among PWID is complex, with transmission occurring between and among older and younger PWID.


Journal article


Journal of hepatology

Publication Date





1247 - 1255


Viral Hepatitis Clinical Research Program, The Kirby Institute, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW, Australia. Electronic address: