Despite the fact that the majority of prevalent and incident cases of HCV are associated with intravenous drug use (IVDU), these patients have largely been excluded from HCV care. The aim of this study was to examine the treatment outcome of chronic hepatitis C in IVDUs compared to non-IVDUs.
Patients and methods: Patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) who initiated and completed combination antiviral therapy with pegilated interferon and ribavirin, at the Hepatology Department of the University Hospital for Infectious and Tropical Diseases in Belgrade, were retrospectively analyzed. The study included a series of 254 patients of which 100 (39.4%) were former IVDU.
Results: Sustained virological response (SVR) was recorded in a total of 172 patients (67.7%). The analyses of the favorable treatment outcome, regarding particular viral genotypes, revealed that among those with genotype 1 and/or 4, including patients with genotype 1 recombinants with genotype 3, SVR was achieved in 114 (63.3%), while it was almost equally distributed between subgroups of former IVDU and all others (P=0.079). Among patients infected with HCV genotypes 2 and/or 3 the SVR rate was as high as 86.6%.
Conclusion: IVDU with CHC infection should be treated with standard combination antiviral therapy for CHC, since the success rate is equal or even better than in non-IVDU patients.
Keywords: Antiviral therapy; Hepatitis C; Intravenous drug users.
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