Most people who inject drugs were not aware of currently available, highly effective hepatitis C treatments, according results of a national survey in Scotland presented at the International Symposium on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users.
From 2015 to 2016, researchers surveyed 2,623 individuals who attended injection equipment provision sites to assess the awareness of new direct-acting antivirals and their efficacy among injection drug users and to determine the factors associated with awareness.
Overall, 879 of the participants had chronic HCV, 36% of whom were unaware of their infection. While 90% of all participants were treatment naive, 79% were aware of HCV treatment.
Researchers asked, “What are the chances of hepatitis C being cured with current treatment?” Most participants (n = 530) responded that the chance was low or less than 40%, followed by 183 who answered very high or 81% to 100%, 127 who answered high or 61% to 80%, and 39 who answered that the chances were reasonable or 41% to 60%.
In an adjusted analysis, participants previously tested for HCV were more likely to be aware of treatment than those who had not among both uninfected (OR = 3.11; 95% CI, 2.3-4.22) and infected participants (OR = 16.04; 95% CI, 10.57-24.33).
Additionally, awareness of DAA effectiveness was significantly higher among those who had ever attended a clinic (OR = 9.76; 95% CI, 5.13-18.6), been diagnosed but never attended a clinic (OR = 3.91; 95% CI, 2.02-7.53), and been tested but were uninfected (OR = 2.55; 95% CI, 1.35-4.81) compared with those who had never received a test.
The researchers concluded by advocating for increased efforts to raise awareness of new HCV therapies and the effective outcomes of new DAAs among high-risk populations such as injection drug users.
By Talitha Bennett