High HCV cure rates for people who use drugs treated with direct acting antiviral therapy at an urban primary care clinic

Int J Drug Policy. 2017 Sep;47:196-201. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.07.021. Epub 2017 Aug 12.


Background: Though direct acting antivirals (DAAs) promise high cure rates, many providers and payers remain concerned about successful treatment for people who use drugs (PWUD), even among those engaged in opioid agonist treatment (OAT). The efficacy of DAAs among PWUD in real-world settings is unclear.

Methods: We conducted a cohort study of patients initiating HCV treatment between January 2014 and August 2015 (n=89) at a primary care clinic in the Bronx, NY. Onsite HCV treatment with DAAs was performed by an HCV specialist, with support from a care coordinator funded by the NYC Department of Health. We identified four categories of drug use and drug treatment: (1) no active drug use/not receiving OAT (defined as non-PWUD); (2) no active drug use/receiving OAT; (3) active drug use/not receiving OAT; and (4) active drug use/receiving OAT. The primary outcome was SVR at 12 weeks post-treatment.

Results: Overall SVR rates were 95% (n=41/43) for non-PWUD and 96% (n=44/46) for patients actively using drugs and/or receiving OAT [p=0.95]. There were no differences in SVR rates by drug use or drug treatment category. Compared to non-PWUD, those with no active drug use/receiving OAT had 100% SVR (n=15/15; p=1.0), those actively using drugs/not receiving OAT had 90% SVR (n=9/10; p=0.47), and those actively using drugs/receiving OAT had 95% SVR (20/21; p=1.0).

Conclusion: Regardless of active drug use or OAT, patients who received DAA therapy at an urban primary care clinic achieved high HCV cure rates. We found no clinical evidence to justify restricting access to HCV treatment for patients actively using drugs and/or receiving OAT.

Keywords: Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs); Hepatitis C virus (HCV); Opioid agonist therapy (OAT); People who use drugs (PWUD); Real-world efficacy.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analgesics, Opioid / therapeutic use
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Drug Users*
  • Female
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / complications*
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Sustained Virologic Response
  • Urban Health Services*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Antiviral Agents