Combination interventions to prevent HCV transmission among people who inject drugs: modeling the impact of antiviral treatment, needle and syringe programs, and opiate substitution therapy

Clin Infect Dis. 2013 Aug;57 Suppl 2(Suppl 2):S39-45. doi: 10.1093/cid/cit296.


Background: Interventions such as opiate substitution therapy (OST) and high-coverage needle and syringe programs (HCNSP) cannot substantially reduce hepatitis C virus (HCV) prevalence among people who inject drugs (PWID). HCV antiviral treatment may prevent onward transmission. We project the impact of combining OST, HCNSP, and antiviral treatment on HCV prevalence/incidence among PWID.

Methods: An HCV transmission model among PWID was used to project the combinations of OST, HCNSP, and antiviral treatment required to achieve different prevalence and incidence reductions within 10 years for 3 chronic prevalence scenarios and the impact of HCV treatment if only delivered through OST programs. Multivariate and univariate sensitivity analyses were performed.

Results: Large reductions (>45%) in HCV chronic prevalence over 10 years require HCV antiviral treatment. Scaling up OST and HCNSP substantially reduces the treatment rate required to achieve specific HCV prevalence reductions. If OST and HCNSP coverage were increased to 40% each (no coverage at baseline), then annually treating 10, 23, or 42 per 1000 PWID over 10 years would halve prevalence for 20%, 40%, or 60% baseline chronic HCV prevalences, respectively. Approximately 30% fewer treatments are necessary with new direct-acting antivirals. If coverage of OST and HCNSP is 50% at baseline, similar prevalence reductions require higher treatment rates for the same OST and HCNSP coverage.

Conclusions: Combining antiviral treatment with OST with HCNSP is critical for achieving substantial reductions (>50%) in HCV chronic prevalence over 10 years. Empirical studies are required on how best to scale up antiviral treatment and combine treatment with other interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Communicable Disease Control / methods*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control*
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C / prevention & control
  • Hepatitis C / transmission*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Models, Statistical
  • Needle-Exchange Programs*
  • Opiate Substitution Treatment*
  • Prevalence
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / drug therapy


  • Antiviral Agents