Risk factors and medical follow-up of drug users tested for hepatitis C--can the risk of transmission be reduced?

Drug Alcohol Rev. 1997 Dec;16(4):339-47. doi: 10.1080/09595239700186721.


Of 1728 patients attending a regional drug and alcohol clinic, 202 were considered at risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Forty-nine per cent (99/202) agreed to testing-67% (67) were HCV antibody positive. Age and a history of needle sharing was the significant factor associated with positive HCV status. Patients on methadone maintenance medication were more-likely to have been HCV positive, but significantly (p = 0.005) less likely to have shared needles in the previous year. Seventy-three per cent (49/67) attended for follow-up at a "liver clinic". Fifty per cent were infected with genotype 1a. Eighteen patients were biopsied and all were abnormal, ranging from mild hepatitis to severe fibrotic hepatitis. Attendance for medical follow-up was poor, which emphasizes the importance of preventative measures such as methadone maintenance programmes for reducing the spread of HCV.