Background: A safe and efficacious vaccine may be the most efficient and cost-effective strategy for controlling the hepatitis C virus (HCV) epidemic among people who inject drugs (PWID) and several candidates are in development. However, little is known about the factors that influence willingness to participate (WTP) in candidate HCV vaccine trials among this group.
Methods: HCV seronegative PWID recruited between 2008 and 2010 as part of a prospective observational cohort study in Sydney, Australia were asked whether they would be willing to participate in a future candidate hepatitis C vaccine trial and to provide reasons to explain their decision.
Results: Of 113 participants, 74% indicated WTP, 15% were unwilling to participate and 11% reported WTP that was contingent on vaccine characteristics and trial design issues. The most commonly reported motivator for hypothetical trial participation was altruism, followed by potential health benefits, financial remuneration, and knowledge gain. Barriers to hypothetical participation included fears about possible harms to health, such as concerns about vaccine safety, side effects, and acquiring HCV from the vaccine; other barriers included mistrust of biomedical research and time constraints.
Conclusions: These results may be useful in designing strategies to enhance HCV vaccine trial recruitment and retention and have ethical implications for developing informed consent processes and standards of care.
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