VIENNA — In this exclusive video from the International Liver Congress 2019, Heather Valerio, from the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales in Australia, provides an overview of the Enhancing Treatment of Hepatitis C in Opioid Substitution Settings Engage study of hepatitis C outcomes among people who inject drugs.
“Australia has had unrestricted access to direct-acting antiviral therapy for hepatitis C since March 2016 and in our study we have aimed to assess the extent of treatment uptake in people who inject drugs and the current hepatitis C prevalence in this population in an era of unrestricted direct-acting antiviral therapy access,” Valerio told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease.
Between May and November 2018, Valerio and colleagues enrolled 507 people who inject drugs in the ETHOS Engage study. Most patients had had injected drugs within the last month (70%) and were currently receiving opioid substitution therapy (OST; 70%). HCV history showed that 73% were ever antibody positive and 58% were ever RNA-positive.
Uptake of HCV therapy was high across those with current OST (71%) and those not receiving OST (59%) and those who recently used injection drugs (70%), including use of heroin (68%), other opioids (57%) and amphetamines (70%).
Among participants with a point-of-care HCV RNA result at enrollment, 26% had current RNA-positive HCV infection, 33% had treatment-induced clearance, 17% had spontaneous clearance, and 23% were uninfected.
“ETHOS is a great study which we can use to measure how Australia is tracking toward eliminating hepatitis C in people who inject drugs,” Valerio said. “Our ETHOS Engage study is on track to achieve our recruitment target of 1,500 by late 2019 and when this is done, we have the approvals in sight to do a second wave of ETHOS Engage which will include a test and treat strategy.”
Reference: Valerio H. Abstract. Presented at: International Liver Congress; April 10-14, 2019; Vienna, Austria.
Disclosure: The Enhancing Treatment of Hepatitis C in Opioid Substitution Settings (ETHOS) Engage study is funded by a National Health & Medical Research Council Partnership Project grant, including funding from New South Wales Health and Merck/Merck Sharp & Dohme. Valerio reports no relevant financial disclosures.