October 18, 2016
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Methadone users’ misconceptions about HCV delay treatment

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Sarah B. Bass

Methadone users may delay seeking treatment for hepatitis C virus infection due to misconceptions about the disease and its treatment options, according to study results presented at the 2016 EASL Special Conference: New Perspectives in Hepatitis C Virus Infection — The Roadmap for Cure.

“The results of this study showed clear conceptual differences about barriers, benefits and beliefs about HCV treatment between methadone clients who did and did not have HCV,” Sarah B. Bass, PhD, MPH, associate professor of public health at Temple University in Philadelphia, told Infectious Disease News. “Those who were HCV [positive] believed that treatment was ‘worth it,’ but were also concerned about others believing they might have HIV and that not having symptoms was a reason for not being treated.”

Bass and colleagues surveyed 150 patients — 100 with HCV — undergoing methadone maintenance treatment and used perceptual maps to illustrate their findings.

“Interestingly, neither group saw significant benefits to being treated right now,” Bass said. “But the maps show that if messages focus on issues of the treatment being a cure for HCV, that it is easy and quick to take and that it would help people feel ‘in charge,’ you would be able to move this group toward the decision to be treated.”

The survey also showed chronic methadone users place high importance on a clinician’s knowledge of HCV, according to Bass.

“We didn’t see significant issues with trust of health care providers overall but many were unsure that their own doctors would really know how to treat HCV or would want to treat someone on methadone,” she said. “This is significant for clinicians to acknowledge their own perceptions of methadone clients to ensure those with HCV feel comfortable discussing treatment options.” – by Janel Miller

Disclosure: Bass reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the abstract for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.