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Drugnet Europe News from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction — April–June 2007

New challenges for mathematical and statistical modelling of HIV and HCV in IDUs

Injecting drug users (IDUs) not only drive blood-borne transmission of HIV and the hepatitis C virus (HCV) but are also likely to be driving sexual transmission of HIV in large parts of the world. Mathematical and statistical modelling techniques can provide important insights into these epidemiological processes and into the potential impact of responses and interventions. However, to date, they have been under-used.

In response, the European study group for mathematical modelling and epidemi-ological analysis of drug-related infectious diseases, set up by the EMCDDA in 2006, is currently exploring the potential areas in which to apply modelling techniques in the field of viral infections in IDUs. Among the first results of the group is a paper (1) reviewing a selection of published modelling work relating to HIV and HCV in IDUs. The paper highlights recent developments in the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these infections.

The authors found that a number of issues are changing the questions and decisions facing public health policy-makers who deal with drug-related infectious diseases. These include: new methods for diagnosing early HIV infection; new antiviral drugs for a more effective treatment of HIV, HBV and HCV; and new concepts in the design and surveillance of interventions for drug users. It is hoped that research that includes a mathematical modelling component will help policy-makers understand the impact of new diagnostic tools, new treatment options and combined intervention strategies on the epidemiology of viral infections in IDUs.

Mirjam Kretzschmar and Lucas Wiessing

(1) Kretzschmar, M. and Wiessing, L. (2008), 'New challenges for mathematical and statistical modelling of HIV and hepatitis C virus in IDUs', AIDS 2008, 22, pp. 1–10 (in press).

Drugnet Europe is the EMCDDA's newsletter launched in September 1996. The newsletter provides regular and succint information on the Centre's projects and activities to a broad readership.

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