Objectives: The aim of the study was to describe the profile of injection drug users (IDUs) visiting a tertiary care center in north India.
Methods: A retrospective study was conducted for 63 IDUs who sought treatment over a period of 6 months, were regular current users of the injecting drugs, and underwent blood/urine testing at the laboratory.
Results: The mean age of sample was 29.92±6.27 years, and all were male patients. The mean age at onset of injection use was 25.81±6.61 years. Nearly 60.3% patients regularly chased heroin for an average of 7.5 years before injection use. The most commonly injected drug was pentazocine (35.4%), followed by buprenorphine (28.6%) and heroin (27%), and the use of opioids was confirmed on urinalysis in 75% of patients. The hemoglobin ranged between 7.50 and 13.50 g/dL. At least 1 abnormality in the differential leukocyte count was found in 39.7% (n=25) of sample. Further, 57% of patients with any specific or nonspecific medical complaint and 30.9% of patients with no overt medical complaint had leukocyte abnormality. Erythrocyte sedimentation rate was increased in two thirds of tested patients. Hypoalbuminemia was present in 41.3%, serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase was elevated in 25.4%, serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase in 20.6%, γ-glutamyl transpeptidase in 31.8%, and alkaline phosphatase in 54% of IDUs. The human immunodeficiency virus enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was found to be positive in 7.9% of patients.
Conclusions: The findings add to the limited number of studies on profile of treatment-seeking IDUs from northern India. The study pointed to the presence of hematological abnormalities in IDUs complaining of nonspecific symptoms or, even, no overt medical symptoms.