This article was reported by UB Reporter.
The UB Reporter, the campus news source for the University at Buffalo (UB), the State University of New York, reported on a study regarding the attitudes of injecting drug users enrolled in a drug treatment program toward learning about hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Andrew H. Talal, senior author and professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at UB and adjunct associate professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, and colleagues surveyed 320 patients enrolled in a New York City methadone treatment program about their willingness to learn about HCV. Almost half of the participants reported they were infected with HCV.
Of the participants, 78 percent were willing to participate in an HCV education program and be treated for HCV infection. Participants reported that one barrier to receiving HCV treatment was fear of adverse effects from interferon, which is standard treatment for HCV genotype 1. According to Talal, injecting drug users have always wanted HCV treatment, but barriers existed at the patient, provider, and institutional levels. Patients were not educated about the disease, were afraid of side effects of interferon, were not comfortable visiting conventional healthcare medical offices, and did not know the status of their infection. Talal credits the change in attitudes of patients who inject drugs to knowledge of improved treatment efficacy and the ability to access HCV treatment at the same location as substance abuse treatment.
The Viral Hepatitis Action Coalition in collaboration with CDC funded the study, which is the initial stage of a larger study.
The full report, "Hepatitis C Virus-Related Knowledge and Willingness to Receive Treatment Among Patients on Methadone Maintenance," was published online in the Journal of Addiction (2014; doi: 10.1097/ADM.0000000000000041).