Objectives/background: The population of people who use drugs (PWUD) has the highest prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in Europe. PWUD are multimorbid patients who are difficult to integrate into existing healthcare systems. In our study, we evaluated the feasibility of providing HCV treatment within opioid maintenance treatment (OMT) programmes offering integrated primary care-based health services under one roof.
Methods: We evaluated 66 charts of patients in four outpatient clinics (OMT) with HCV treatment (between 2002 and 2010). Fourteen of the patients were treated with heroin and nine patients had an HIV coinfection. Data on the socioeconomic characteristics and quality of life were assessed. We counted the number of consultations in the clinic to assess how much supportive care the patients needed.
Results: Overall, 62% of all patients (41 out of 66) achieved a sustained virological response (SVR). A total of 84% of patients with genotype 3 achieved an SVR. Sixty-four percent of patients treated with heroin achieved an SVR. The majority of patients (71%) used illicit drugs during HCV treatment and over 80% were diagnosed with psychiatric comorbidities. Comparisons of patient characteristics according to SVR or non-SVR showed that a longer duration of OMT, more consultations per week during HCV treatment and poor self-reported physical condition were associated with non-SVR.
Conclusion: We conclude that offering HCV treatment in an integrated primary care-based setting with OMT and individualized use of different supporting strategies allows for treatment success rates in the population of PWUD that is comparable to the ones in the population of patients without drug use. Heroin maintenance treatment programmes offer a feasible and safe setting for providing HCV treatment.