Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the major infectious disease agent among injecting drug users (IDUs), with seroprevalence ranging from 50-90%. In this paper, serological and virological parameters were investigated among 194 IDUs, 94 ex-IDUs and 95 non-IDUs that were sampled by the "snowball" technique in three localities renowned for both intense drug use and trafficking activities in Salvador, Brazil. The majority of the participants were male, but sex and mean age differed significantly between IDUs/ex-IDUs and non-IDUs (p < 0.05). Anti-HCV screening revealed that 35.6%, 29.8% and 5.3% of samples from IDUs, ex-IDUs and non-IDUs, respectively, were seropositive. HCV-RNA detection confirmed that the prevalence of infection was 29.4%, 21.3% and 5.3% for IDUs, ex-IDUs and non-IDUs, respectively. Genotyping analysis among IDUs/ex-IDUs determined that 76.9% were infected with genotype 1, 18.5% with genotype 3 and 4.6% with a mixed genotype; this result differed significantly from non-IDUs, where genotype 3 was the most frequent (60%), followed by genotype 1 (20%) and a mixed genotype (20%). We report a significantly higher prevalence of HCV infection in IDUs/ex-IDUs compared to the control group (p < 0.001). Although the sample size of our study was small, the differences in HCV genotype distribution reported herein for IDUs/ex-IDUs and non-IDUs warrant further investigation.