In Belgium, people who inject drugs (PWID) are at a high risk of being infected by hepatitis C (HCV) as injecting drug use is the main mode for transmission of HCV in Europe. Estimates about the number of people living with HCV in Belgium are rare and even less is known about the prevalence of HCV among PWID.
Between 1 February 2019 and 26 April 2019, PWID and high-risk opiate users (HROU) were recruited in Brussels through respondent-driven sampling (RDS). They were invited to a questionnaire and underwent a rapid HCV test.
A total of 253 respondents participated in the study, of which 168 were PWID and 238 were HROU, with 153 respondents belonging to both categories. The overall unweighted sample average for HCV antibodies was 41.1%. The weighted population estimates were 43.7% (95% CI 30.6–56.8%) for RDS-II and 43.4% (95% CI 28.9–58.0%) for RDS-SS.
This prevalence is lower than the prevalence estimates reported elsewhere in Europe. However, the data still suggest that serious efforts are needed to reach the goal set by the WHO to reduce HCV by 2030 with 90%.