In a group of young users of injection drugs, recent maintenance
opioid agonist therapy with methadone or buprenorphine for opioid use
disorders, such as heroin addiction, was associated with a lower
incidence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and may be an effective
strategy to reduce injection-drug use and the resulting spread of HCV,
according to a study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.
The use of injection drugs is a main route of
transmission for HCV infection. Younger drug users are an important
group to target because they are at the core of HCV infections.
Interventions that can prevent HCV infections are vital. Previous
studies have suggested that opioid agonist therapy may reduce the
incidence of HCV infection but little was known about the effect of this
therapy in young drug users.
Our results suggest that treatment for opioid use disorders with maintenance opioid agonist therapy can reduce transmission of HCV in young adult injection drug users and should be offered as an important component of comprehensive strategies for prevention of primary HCV infection,” the authors conclude.