AIM: To compare the prevalence and severity of depressive symptoms among drug users with and without hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. METHODS: This was a cross-sectional survey study carried out at the 2 major drug treatment centres on the island of Funen, Denmark. Participants were drug users presenting to the 2 treatment centres. Individuals with chronic hepatitis B virus or HIV infection were excluded. Participants completed the Major Depression Inventory (MDI) questionnaire when presenting at the centres. Patients with MDI scores indicating severe depression (total MDI score ≥ 35) were referred for treatment evaluation. Hepatitis C status was classified by the presence of anti-HCV as a marker of HCV exposure and HCV-RNA as a marker of ongoing infection. RESULTS: Two hundred and sixty-eight patients were included, of whom 235 (88%) had complete serological testing; 100 (43%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 36-49%) had chronic hepatitis C. The median MDI score was 22 (interquartile range 12-33); 32% (95% CI 26-39%) had a score compatible with depression and 14% (95% CI 10-19%) were rated as severe depression. Depression was not associated with hepatitis C (HCV-infected 29%, non-infected 35%; p = 0.25). Forty-one percent (11/27) of the evaluated participants started antidepressant treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Our study demonstrated a high prevalence of depressive symptoms among drug users, but this was not more frequent among HCV-infected patients. The high overall prevalence of depression underlines the relevance of screening for depression in patients who are drug users.
Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2014, Vol 46, Issue 8, p. 566-72