Can needle and syringe programmes and opiate substitution therapy achieve substantial reductions in hepatitis C virus prevalence? Model projections for different epidemic settings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

107 Citations (Scopus)


Aims To investigate the impact of scaling-up opiate substitution therapy (OST) and high coverage needle and syringe programmes (100%NSPobtaining more sterile syringes than you inject) on HCV prevalence among injecting drug users (IDUs). Design Hepatitis C virus HCV transmission modelling using UK estimates for effect of OST and 100%NSP on individual risk of HCV infection. Setting Range of chronic HCV prevalent (20/40/60%) settings with no OST/100%NSP, and UK setting with 50% coverage of both OST and 100%NSP. Participants Injecting drug users. Measurements Decrease in HCV prevalence after 520 years due to scale-up of OST and 100%NSP to 20/40/60% coverage in no OST/100%NSP settings, or from 50% to 60/70/80% coverage in the UK setting. Findings For 40% chronic HCV prevalence, scaling-up OST and 100%NSP from 0% to 20% coverage reduces HCV prevalence by 13% after 10 years. This increases to a 24/33% relative reduction at 40/60% coverage. Marginally less impact occurs in higher prevalence settings over 10 years, but this becomes more pronounced over time. In the United Kingdom, without current coverage levels of OST and 100%NSP the chronic HCV prevalence could be 65% instead of 40%. However, increasing OST and 100%NSP coverage further is unlikely to reduce chronic prevalence to less than 30% over 10 years unless coverage becomes =80%. Conclusions Scaling-up opiate substitution therapy and high coverage needle and syringe programmes can reduce hepatitis C prevalence among injecting drug users, but reductions can be modest and require long-term sustained intervention coverage. In high coverage settings, other interventions are needed to further decrease hepatitis C prevalence. In low coverage settings, sustained scale-up of both interventions is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1984-1995
Number of pages12
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012

Bibliographical note

© 2012 The Authors. Addiction © 2012 Society for the Study of Addiction.


  • Opiate Substitution Treatment
  • Needle-Exchange Programs
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders
  • Models, Biological
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic
  • Great Britain
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous
  • Prevalence

Cite this