BACKGROUND: People who inject drugs (PWID) experience barriers to accessing testing and treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Opioid agonist therapy (OAT) may provide an opportunity to improve access to HCV care. This systematic review assessed the association of OAT and HCV testing, treatment, and treatment outcomes among PWID.
METHODS: Bibliographic databases and conference presentations were searched for studies assessing the association between OAT and HCV testing, treatment, and treatment outcomes [direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy only] among people who inject drugs (in the past year). Meta-analysis was used to pool estimates.
RESULTS: Among 9,877 articles identified, 22 studies conducted in Australia, Europe, North America, and Thailand were eligible and included. Risk of bias was serious in 21 studies and moderate in one study. Current/recent OAT was associated with an increased odds of recent HCV antibody testing [4 studies; odds ratio (OR), 1.80; 95% CI:1.36, 2.39), HCV RNA testing among those who were HCV antibody positive (2 studies; OR, 1.83; 95% CI:1.27, 2.62), and DAA treatment uptake among those who were HCV RNA positive (7 studies; OR 1.53; 95% CI: 1.07, 2.20). There was insufficient evidence of an association between OAT and treatment completion (9 studies) or sustained virologic response following DAA therapy (9 studies).
CONCLUSIONS: Opioid agonist therapy can increase linkage to HCV care, including uptake of HCV testing and treatment among PWID. This supports the scale-up of OAT as part of strategies to enhance HCV treatment to further HCV elimination efforts.
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- care cascade
- injecting drug use