Introduction: High rates of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission are found in samples of people who inject drugs (PWID) throughout the world. The objective of this paper was to meta-analyze the effects of risk-reduction interventions on HCV seroconversion and identify the most effective intervention types.
Methods: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished studies. Eligible studies reported on the association between participation in interventions intended to reduce unsafe drug injection and HCV seroconversion in samples of PWID.
Results: The meta-analysis included 26 eligible studies of behavioral interventions, substance-use treatment, syringe access, syringe disinfection, and multicomponent interventions. Interventions using multiple combined strategies reduced risk of seroconversion by 75% (pooled relative risk, .25; 95% confidence interval, .07-.83). Effects of single-method interventions ranged from .6 to 1.6.
Conclusions: Interventions using strategies that combined substance-use treatment and support for safe injection were most effective at reducing HCV seroconversion. Determining the effective dose and combination of interventions for specific subgroups of PWID is a research priority. However, our meta-analysis shows that HCV infection can be prevented in PWID.