Injection drug users who participated in a methadone treatment program were willing to learn about hepatitis C virus infection and be treated for it, according to data from a recent study.
Researchers, including Andrew H. Talal, MD, MPH, Editorial Board member for HCV Next and professor and chief of gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, at the University of Buffalo, SUNY, surveyed 320 injection drug users (IDUs) from a New York-based methadone treatment program. IDUs were surveyed between November 2012 and February 2013 on their willingness to learn about and receive treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) and their existing HCV knowledge. Respondents (mean age, 53 years; 59.5% men) were primarily African-Americans (55.1%) and Hispanic (38%).
Andrew H. Talal
In the 30-item survey, results indicated that 78% of participants expressed willingness to receive HCV-related education and treatment. More than half of the respondents (58.3%) were aware of HCV-related education, and 35.5% had attended educational sessions previously and were more likely to attend a future session, compared with those who had not attended one previously (85.6% vs. 66.9%).
Participants willing to receive treatment also were more likely to attend an educational session compared with those who did not want treatment (85% vs. 54.3%). Of the surveyed IDUs, 46.3% were positive for HCV, 48.4% were negative, and 5.4% were unsure. Researchers found HCV positivity was directly related to injection drug use (P<.001).
Researchers said 90.3% of respondents knew basic facts about HCV infection, whereas only 32.7% knew a vaccine existed.
“One of the most important findings of this work is that people who inject drugs do want to be educated about the disease and that education is associated with willingness to be treated,” Talal said in a press release. “These new findings support the premise that addiction-treatment facilities can help provide sustained HCV treatment for this population.”
Disclosure: Talal reports serving on the advisory board for Abbot Molecular and receiving research support from Gilead Sciences.