Patient and provider perceived barriers and facilitators to direct acting antiviral hepatitis C treatment among priority populations in high income countries: A knowledge synthesis

Int J Drug Policy. 2021 Oct:96:103247. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2021.103247. Epub 2021 Apr 11.


Background: Direct acting antivirals (DAAs) have increased cure rates for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection; however, there are several obstacles to the uptake of DAAs in populations where substance use contributes to HCV risk. This synthesis aimed to identify the patient and provider perceived barriers and facilitators to DAA treatment initiation in key patient subgroups-people who inject drugs (PWID), men who have sex with men (MSM), and Indigenous people.

Methods: We systematically searched seven databases and conducted a gray literature search for studies that qualitatively explored patient and provider perceived barriers and facilitators to DAA treatment in our populations of interest. Selected studies were published after 2013 when second generation DAAs became available. The titles, abstracts, and subsequently full texts were screened by two independent reviewers and critically appraised. Barriers and facilitators to DAA treatment uptake were then extracted and thematically synthesized.

Results: 2144 titles and abstracts were identified and screened; 29 full texts were subsequently reviewed. Twelve qualitative studies were finally included. Among providers, perceived barriers to DAA treatment uptake included lack of resources and lack of provider knowledge on HCV while facilitators to treatment provision included simplicity of DAA regimens and professional identity as a doctor to advocate for patients. Among patients, perceived barriers to treatment uptake included current drug use, concerns about side effects of DAAs, stigma, gaps in community care, competing social responsibilities and mental health issues while facilitators included having a trustworthy provider and access to multidisciplinary HCV care.

Conclusion: Despite simplicity of DAAs, many structural barriers to optimal HCV care continue to be experienced by patients and providers. In highlighting nuanced patient and provider perceived barriers and facilitators, this review underscores the need to involve participatory methods in the design and evaluation of interventions to best improve access to care.

Keywords: Direct-acting antivirals; Hepatitis C; Indigenous; People who inject drugs; Qualitative; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • Developed Countries
  • Hepatitis C* / drug therapy
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic* / drug therapy
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities*
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous* / drug therapy


  • Antiviral Agents