Intravenous drug use: not a barrier to achieving a sustained virological response in HCV infection

J Viral Hepat. 2012 Feb;19(2):112-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2893.2011.01446.x. Epub 2011 May 9.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is commonly transmitted by intravenous drug use (IDU) but drug users are under represented in many treatment cohorts, this is because of the assumption of lowered treatment success. We assessed HCV treatment outcomes in active intravenous drug users and patients on opiate substitution therapy. The Tayside HCV treatment database was retrospectively analysed for consecutively treated patients based on risk factor for acquisition of HCV. Primary end point was sustained virological response (SVR). Two hundred and ninety-one consecutively treated patients were assessed. The overall SVR rate was 55.3%. The SVR rates by risk factor were; Non-IDU 61.4%, Ex-IDU 54.8% and Active IDU 47.1% (P = n/s). In the groups G1 patients SVR was; Non-IDU 52.7%, Ex-IDU 30.7% and active IDU 35.4% (P = n/s). In the non-G1 patients: non-IDU 65.1%, Ex-IDU 76.7% and active IDU 53.5%. Ex-IDU had a significantly better SVR than active IDU, other differences were not significant. Our results demonstrate that SVR rates in the active drug users and those on opiate substitution therapy can be achieved which are comparable with non-IDU infected individuals. Intravenous drug use in those engaged with treatment services should not be seen as a barrier to treatment of HCV.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Viral Load


  • Antiviral Agents