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and Hepatitis.com Coverage of the
50th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICAAC 2010)
Vancouver Hepatitis C Treatment Program for Injection Drug Users Proves Popular and Successful
Some healthcare providers have traditionally been reluctant to offer chronic hepatitis C treatment to current or former injection drug users due to concerns about poor adherence and toxicities. Studies have shown, however, that such patients can do well on treatment, and current practice guidelines state that drug users should be considered on an individual basis and not routinely excluded from therapy.
B. Conway from the University of British Columbia and colleagues performed an evaluation of a program providing hepatitis C treatment to injection drug users in Vancouver's Downtown East Side neighborhood.
Starting in March 2005, participants were recruited at the Pender Community Health Centre and evaluated for possible treatment for HCV infection. Diagnostic testing was offered for HCV and HIV, and patients who were deemed eligible for hepatitis C therapy were offered the opportunity to be included in the program.
Participants attended weekly clinic visits. All treated patients received once-weekly pegylated interferon as directly observed therapy plus daily self-administered ribavirin. Participants also received extensive medical, addiction, and counseling support and a standardized proactive approach to management of treatment-related side effects.
"Our expanding program (to deliver over 100 courses of treatment per year in 2010) continues to attract significant numbers of patients into HCV treatment, with good retention and success, despite ongoing illicit drug use in many cases," the researchers concluded. "The flexibility of the program allows us to tailor its delivery to suit individual needs and contributes to its success."
Investigator affiliations: Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Vancouver Coastal Health, Vancouver, Canada.