Background: Among the estimated 340,000 people who inject drugs (PWID) in Ukraine, HCV prevalence is approximately 70%. As HCV treatment availability increases, an assessment of the HCV treatment cascade is needed to guide HCV prevention and treatment strategies.
Methods: Opioid dependent PWID were interviewed and tested for HIV and HCV in five Ukrainian cities from January 2014 to March 2015. Logistic regression was used to examine the independent correlates of two cascade steps: a) anti-HCV positive status awareness; b) chronic HCV confirmation; and of c) annual HCV testing for PWID.
Results: Among 1613 PWID, 1002 (62.1%) had anti-HCV positive test result, of which 568 (56.7%) were aware of it before the study and 346 (34.5%) reported previous confirmatory testing for chronic HCV. Independent correlates of being aware they had anti-HCV positivity included: current [AOR: 3.08; 95%CI: 2.16-4.40] or prior [AOR: 1.85; 95%CI: 1.27-2.68] opioid agonistic treatment (OAT) experience, relative to no prior OAT, living in Lviv [AOR: 0.50; 95%CI: 0.31-0.81] or Odesa [AOR: 2.73; 95%CI: 1.51-4.93] relative to Kyiv and being aware of having HIV [AOR: 4.10; 95%CI: 2.99-5.62]. Independent correlates of confirming HCV infection among those who were aware of their anti-HCV positive status included: current OAT [AOR: 2.00; 95%CI: 1.24-3.23], relative to prior OAT, the middle income category [AOR: 1.74, 95%CI: 1.15-2.63], relative to the lowest, and receiving ART [AOR: 4.54; 95%CI: 2.85-7.23]. Among 1613 PWID, 918 (56.9%) were either HCV negative or not aware of their HCV positive status, of which 198 (21.6%) reported recent anti-HCV test (during last 12 month). Recent anti-HCV test in this group was associated with current [AOR: 7.17; 95%CI: 4.63-11.13] or prior [AOR: 2.24; 95%CI: 1.32-3.81] OAT experience, relative to no prior OAT.
Conclusion: Encouraging PWID to participate in OAT may be an effective strategy to diagnose and link PWID who are HCV positive to care. Among HIV negative participants, regular HCV testing may be ensured by participation in OAT. More studies are needed to assess HCV treatment utilization among PWID in Ukraine and OAT as a possible way to retain them in treatment.
Keywords: Cascade of care; HCV; HCV testing; People who inject drugs (PWID); Ukraine.
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