Interventions to enhance testing, linkage to care and treatment uptake for hepatitis C virus infection among people who inject drugs: A systematic review

Int J Drug Policy. 2017 Sep;47:34-46. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.07.002. Epub 2017 Aug 7.


Background: The burden of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is escalating among people who inject drugs (PWID), yet testing and treatment remains suboptimal. The aim of this systematic review was to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to enhance HCV testing, linkage to care, and treatment uptake among PWID.

Methods: A systematic literature search of Medline (Ovid 1946 - present), Embase, Global Health, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PsycINFO, Clinical Trials Registry, and Web of Science was conducted covering interventional studies published before 20 July 2016. Studies evaluating interventions to enhance HCV testing, linkage to care or treatment among PWID were included. Data from included studies was extracted by one reviewer and checked by a second reviewer with disagreements discussed until consensus was reached. Relative risk ratios and corresponding confidence intervals were generated for studies included in analysis.

Results: After adjusting for duplicates, 10,116 records were identified. A total of 14 studies were included for analysis, of which 57% were randomised controlled trials. Interventions to enhance HCV testing included on-site testing with pre-test counselling and education; and dried blood spot testing. Interventions to enhance linkage to care included facilitated referral for HCV assessment and scheduling of specialist appointments for clients. Interventions to enhance HCV treatment uptake included integrated HCV care, drug use and psychiatric services delivered by a multidisciplinary team with case management services, with or without non-invasive liver disease assessment. All studies were conducted in the interferon treatment era and there were no studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries.

Conclusions: In the direct acting antiviral treatment era, well-designed studies evaluating interventions to enhance a simplified care cascade are crucial in facilitating treatment scale-up.

Keywords: Drug use; HCV; Interventions; Linkage to care; Testing; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Hepatitis C / complications
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / complications*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / psychology*