High prevalence of albuminuria amongst people who inject drugs: A cross-sectional study

Catherine R. McGowan, Talen Wright, Dorothea Nitsch, Dan Lewer, Rachel Braithwaite, Jenny Scott, Vivian Hope, Dan Ciccarone, John Dunn, Julian Gilmore, Al Story, Magdalena Harris

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Albuminuria is a key biomarker for cardiovascular disease and chronic kidney disease. Our study aimed to describe the prevalence of albuminuria amongst people who inject drugs in London and to test any potential associations with demographic characteristics, past diagnoses, and drug preparation and administration practices. We carried out a cross-sectional survey amongst people who use drugs in London. The main outcome measure was any albuminuria including both microalbuminuria and macroalbuminuria. Three-hundred and sixteen samples were tested by local laboratory services. Our study initially employed point-of-care testing methods but this resulted in a high number of false positives. Our findings suggest the prevalence of albuminuria amongst PWID is twice that of the general population at 19% (95%CI 15.3–24.0%). Risk factors associated with albuminuria were HIV (aOR 4.11 [95% CI 1.37–12.38]); followed by overuse of acidifier for dissolving brown heroin prior to injection (aOR 2.10 [95% CI 1.04–4.22]). Albuminuria is high amongst people who inject drugs compared to the general population suggesting the presence of increased cardiovascular and renal pathologies. This is the first study to demonstrate an association with acidifier overuse. Dehydration may be common amongst this population and may affect the diagnostic accuracy of point-of-care testing for albuminuria.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7059
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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