Shared Drug Snorting Straws Increasing Hepatitis C Virus Transmission

HealthDay News — Sharing snorting straws for noninjection drug use may be a source for hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission, according to research published in the August issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Noelle Fernandez, MD, from University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, and colleagues anonymously surveyed 189 HCV-infected pregnant women seen at an obstetric high-risk clinic. The survey assessed modes of potential HCV transmission, including intravenous drug use, blood transfusion, organ transplant, sexual contact, tattoos, and snorting drugs with a straw.

The researchers found that 72% of the respondents admitted to intravenous drug use, of whom nearly two-thirds (65%) reported sharing needles. The majority of women (94% ) admitted snorting drugs, nearly all of whom (92%) reported sharing straws. Fifteen percent of patients reported snorting drugs and sharing straws but denied any other risk factor except sexual contact. Fifty-four straws were confiscated by law enforcement authorities and nearly one-quarter of the straws (24%) tested positive for the presence of human blood.

“Sharing snorting utensils (straws) in noninjection drug use may be an additional risk factor for hepatitis C virus and other virus transmission,” the authors write.


1. Fernandez N, Towers C, Wolfe L, et al.  Sharing of Snorting Straws and Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Pregnant Women. Obstet Gyn. 2016; doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000001507.