Integrating HCV testing with HIV programs improves hepatitis C outcomes in people who inject drugs: A cluster-randomized trial

J Hepatol. 2020 Jan;72(1):67-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2019.09.022. Epub 2019 Oct 8.


Background & aims: There have been calls to integrate HCV testing into existing services, including harm reduction and HIV prevention and treatment, but there are few empirical trials to date. We evaluated the impact of integrating HCV testing/education into integrated care centers (ICCs) delivering HIV services to people who inject drugs (PWID) across India, using a cluster-randomized trial.

Methods: We compared ICCs with usual care in the PWID stratum (12 sites) of a 22-site cluster-randomized trial. In 6 sites, ICCs delivering HIV testing, harm reduction, other preventive services and linkage to HIV treatment were scaled from opioid agonist therapy centers and operated for 2 years. On-site rapid HCV antibody testing was integrated after 1 year. To assess impact, we conducted baseline and evaluation surveys using respondent-driven sampling (RDS) across the 12 sites (n = 11,993 recruited at baseline; n = 11,721 recruited at evaluation). The primary outcome was population-level self-reported HCV testing history.

Results: At evaluation, HCV antibody prevalence ranged from 7.2-76.6%. Across 6 ICCs, 5,263 ICC clients underwent HCV testing, of whom 2,278 were newly diagnosed. At evaluation, PWID in ICC clusters were 4-fold more likely to report being tested for HCV than in usual care clusters, adjusting for baseline testing (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR] 3.69; 95% CI 1.34-10.2). PWID in ICC clusters were also 7-fold more likely to be aware of their HCV status (aPR 7.11; 95% CI 1.14-44.3) and significantly more likely to initiate treatment (aPR 9.86; 95% CI 1.52-63.8).

Conclusions: We provide among the first empirical data supporting the integration of HCV testing into HIV/harm reduction services. To achieve elimination targets, programs will need to scale-up such venues to deliver comprehensive HCV services. CLINICALTRIALS.

Gov identifier: NCT01686750.

Lay summary: Delivering hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing to people who inject drugs (PWID) in places where they also have access to HIV prevention and treatment services is an effective way to improve uptake of HCV testing among communities of PWID. To achieve the World Health Organization's ambitious elimination targets, integrated programs will need to be scaled up to deliver comprehensive HCV services.

Keywords: Cluster-randomised trial; HCV; HIV; Hepatitis C virus; India; Integrated care; PWID; People who inject drugs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / diagnosis*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology*
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / prevention & control
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / virology
  • Adult
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / methods*
  • Female
  • HIV*
  • Harm Reduction
  • Hepacivirus / immunology*
  • Hepatitis C / blood
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis*
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C / virology
  • Hepatitis C Antibodies / blood
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Hepatitis C Antibodies

Associated data