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Hepatitis C treatment access and uptake for people who inject drugs: a review mapping the role of social factors

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      Abstract

      Background

      Evidence documents successful hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment outcomes for people who inject drugs (PWID) and interest in HCV treatment among this population. Maximising HCV treatment for PWID can be an effective HCV preventative measure. Yet HCV treatment among PWID remains suboptimal. This review seeks to map social factors mediating HCV treatment access.

      Method

      We undertook a review of the social science and public health literature pertaining to HCV treatment for PWID, with a focus on barriers to treatment access, uptake and completion. Medline and Scopus databases were searched, supplemented by manual and grey literature searches. A two step search was taken, with the first step pertaining to literature on HCV treatment for PWID and the second focusing on social structural factors. In total, 596 references were screened, with 165 articles and reports selected to inform the review.

      Results

      Clinical and individual level barriers to HCV treatment among PWID are well evidenced. These include patient and provider concerns regarding co-morbidities, adherence, and side effect management. Social factors affecting treatment access are less well evidenced. In attempting to map these, key barriers fall into the following domains: social stigma, housing, criminalisation, health care systems, and gender. Key facilitating factors to treatment access include: combination intervention approaches encompassing social as well as biomedical interventions, low threshold access to opiate substitution therapy, and integrated delivery of multidisciplinary care.

      Conclusion

      Combination intervention approaches need to encompass social interventions in relation to housing, stigma reduction and systemic changes in policy and health care delivery. Future research needs to better delineate social factors affecting treatment access.

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      Most cited references 113

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      Diagnosis, management, and treatment of hepatitis C: an update.

       L. Thomas,  ,  Marc G Ghany (2009)
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        Global epidemiology of hepatitis B and hepatitis C in people who inject drugs: results of systematic reviews.

        Injecting drug use is an important risk factor for transmission of viral hepatitis, but detailed, transparent estimates of the scale of the issue do not exist. We estimated national, regional, and global prevalence and population size for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) in injecting drug users (IDUs). We systematically searched for data for HBV and HCV in IDUs in peer-reviewed databases (Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO), grey literature, conference abstracts, and online resources, and made a widely distributed call for additional data. From 4386 peer-reviewed and 1019 grey literature sources, we reviewed 1125 sources in full. We extracted studies into a customised database and graded them according to their methods. We included serological reports of HCV antibodies (anti-HCV), HBV antibodies (anti-HBc), or HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) in studies of IDUs with more than 40 participants (<100% HIV-positive) and sampling frames that did not exclude participants on the basis of age or sex. With endorsed decision rules, we calculated prevalence estimates with anti-HCV and anti-HBc as proxies for exposure and HBsAg as proxy for current infection. We combined these estimates with IDU population sizes to calculate the number of IDUs with positive HBV or HCV statuses. We located eligible reports with data for prevalence of anti-HCV in IDUs for 77 countries; midpoint prevalence estimates suggested 60-80% of IDUs had anti-HCV in 25 countries and more than 80% of IDUs did so in 12 countries. About 10.0 million (range 6.0-15.2) IDUs worldwide might be anti-HCV positive. China (1.6 million), USA (1.5 million), and Russia (1.3 million) had the largest such populations. We identified eligible HBsAg reports for 59 countries, with midpoint prevalence estimates of 5-10% in 21 countries and more than 10% in ten countries. Worldwide, we estimate 6.4 million IDUs are anti-HBc positive (2.3-9.7 million), and 1.2 million (0.3-2.7 million) are HBsAg positive. More IDUs have anti-HCV than HIV infection, and viral hepatitis poses a key challenge to public health. Variation in the coverage and quality of existing research creates uncertainty around estimates. Improved and more complete data and reporting are needed to estimate the scale of the issue, which will inform efforts to prevent and treat HCV and HBV in IDUs. WHO and US National Institutes of Health (NIDA R01 DA018609). Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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          Outcomes of treatment for hepatitis C virus infection by primary care providers.

          The Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes (ECHO) model was developed to improve access to care for underserved populations with complex health problems such as hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. With the use of video-conferencing technology, the ECHO program trains primary care providers to treat complex diseases. We conducted a prospective cohort study comparing treatment for HCV infection at the University of New Mexico (UNM) HCV clinic with treatment by primary care clinicians at 21 ECHO sites in rural areas and prisons in New Mexico. A total of 407 patients with chronic HCV infection who had received no previous treatment for the infection were enrolled. The primary end point was a sustained virologic response. A total of 57.5% of the patients treated at the UNM HCV clinic (84 of 146 patients) and 58.2% of those treated at ECHO sites (152 of 261 patients) had a sustained viral response (difference in rates between sites, 0.7 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, -9.2 to 10.7; P=0.89). Among patients with HCV genotype 1 infection, the rate of sustained viral response was 45.8% (38 of 83 patients) at the UNM HCV clinic and 49.7% (73 of 147 patients) at ECHO sites (P=0.57). Serious adverse events occurred in 13.7% of the patients at the UNM HCV clinic and in 6.9% of the patients at ECHO sites. The results of this study show that the ECHO model is an effective way to treat HCV infection in underserved communities. Implementation of this model would allow other states and nations to treat a greater number of patients infected with HCV than they are currently able to treat. (Funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and others.).
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H9SH, UK
            Contributors
            Journal
            Harm Reduct J
            Harm Reduct J
            Harm Reduction Journal
            BioMed Central
            1477-7517
            2013
            7 May 2013
            : 10
            : 7
            23651646
            3686576
            1477-7517-10-7
            10.1186/1477-7517-10-7
            Copyright ©2012 Harris and Rhodes; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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