People who inject drugs (PWID) are at a heightened risk for contracting hepatitis C (HCV), yet few treatment programs for the viral infection are integrated into addiction care. Despite the benefits of integrating HCV treatment into the care of PWID, several challenges exist in health care that must be overcome in order implement this approach in clinical practice, according to a viewpoint article in the International Journal of Drug Policy.
There is currently a substantial need to develop and implement community-based, low-threshold HCV testing as well as treatment services within existing addiction treatment programs, the study’s researcher Lianping Ti, PhD, of St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, told MD Mag.
“In the context of HIV, integrating HIV services within opioid agonist treatment programs has shown to be successful in engaging and retaining people who inject drugs in follow-up care,” Ti added. “In the era of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) based therapy where treatment is shorter, safer and more tolerable than previous therapies, there is an opportunity to redesign addiction programs to address HCV with consideration for the overall health of people who inject drugs to prevent HCV infection and reinfection.”