The aim of the study was to investigate present and past morbidity in drug addicts, 25 years after hospitalisation for acute hepatitis B or hepatitis nonA-nonB. The hospital records for 214 consecutively admitted patients were analysed, and a follow-up study on 66 of the 144 patients still alive was performed. At follow-up, 1 of 54 (1.8%) hepatitis B patients was still HBsAg positive. Twelve patients originally diagnosed as hepatitis nonA-nonB were all among 54 found to be anti-hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) positive, and the total anti-HCV prevalence was 81.8%. Twelve (22.2%) of the HCV cases were unknown before the follow-up examination. Four (6.1%) participants were anti-human immunodeficiency virus positive, only 1 was on antiretroviral therapy, and none had developed AIDS. Other chronic somatic diseases were a minor problem, whereas drug users reported skin infections as a frequent complication. Forty-three patients (65%) had abandoned addictive drugs since the hospital stay. Serious mental disorders were reported by 19 patients (28.8%), and 17 (25.8%) regarded themselves as present (9) and former (8) compulsive alcohol drinkers. A large proportion of the participants were granted disability pension (39%), a majority because of psychiatric disorders, drug and alcohol abuse.
The Russian health care system is organized around specific diseases, with relatively little focus on integration across specialties to address co-morbidities. This organizational structure presents new challenges in the context of the recent epidemics of injection drug use (IDU) and HIV. This paper uses existing and new data to examine the prevalence of reported new cases of drug dependence (heroin) and HIV over time as well as associations between drug dependence and alcoholism, hepatitis B and C, and tuberculosis in the City of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region. We found a sharp rise in reported cases of IDU beginning in 1991 and continuing until 2002/2003, followed by a sharp rise in newly reported cases of HIV. These rises were followed by a drop in new cases of HIV and drug addiction in 2002/2003 and a drop in the proportion of HIV-positive individuals with IDU as a risk factor. Infection with hepatitis B and C were common, especially among injection drug users (38 and 85%, respectively), but also in alcoholics (7 and 14%). Tuberculosis was more common in alcoholics (53%) than in persons with alcoholism and drug dependence (10%), or with drug dependence alone (4%). Though these data have many limitations, they clearly demonstrate that drug dependence and/or alcoholism, HIV, hepatitis, and tuberculosis frequently co-occur in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region. Prevention and treatment services across medical specialties should be integrated to address the wide range of issues that are associated with these co-morbidities.