Overcoming barriers to prevention, care, and treatment of hepatitis C in illicit drug users

Clin Infect Dis. 2005 Apr 15;40 Suppl 5(Suppl 5):S276-85. doi: 10.1086/427441.


Injection drug use accounts for most of the incident infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States and other developed countries. HCV infection is a complex and challenging medical condition in injection drug users (IDUs). Elements of care for hepatitis C in illicit drug users include prevention counseling and education; screening for transmission risk behavior; testing for HCV and human immunodeficiency virus infection; vaccination against hepatitis A and B viruses; evaluation for comorbidities; coordination of substance-abuse treatment services, psychiatric care, and social support; evaluation of liver disease; and interferon-based treatment for HCV infection. Caring for patients who use illicit drugs presents challenges to the health-care team that require patience, experience, and an understanding of the dynamics of substance use and addiction. Nonetheless, programs are successfully integrating hepatitis C care for IDUs into health-care settings, including primary care, methadone treatment and other substance-abuse treatment programs, infectious disease clinics, and clinics in correctional facilities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / prevention & control
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • Hepatitis A / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis B / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis C / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Risk-Taking
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / therapy
  • Vaccination


  • Antiviral Agents