High response and re-infection rates among people who inject drugs treated for hepatitis C in a community needle and syringe programme

Jasmine Schulkind*, Brian Stephens, Farsana Ahmad, Linda Johnston, Sharon Hutchinson, Donna Thain, Zoe Ward, Peter Vickerman, Matt Hickman, John F. Dillon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

17 Citations (Scopus)
252 Downloads (Pure)


To achieve WHO hepatitis C virus (HCV) elimination targets by 2030, mathematical models suggest there needs to be significant scale‐up of treatment among people who inject drugs (PWID). We tested whether people who actively inject drugs can be recruited and treated successfully through a community needle and syringe programme (NSP), and assessed rates of re‐infection. 105 HCV RNA positive participants were enrolled prospectively. Participants were recruited from the largest NSP in Dundee over 42 months. 94/105 individuals commenced treatment. Genotype 1 (G1) individuals (n = 37) were treated with peg‐interferon+ribavirin+Simepravir/Telaprevir. Genotype 2/3 (G2/3) (n = 57) received peg‐interferon+ribavirin. Weekly study visits took place within the NSP. Mean age of participants was 34.0 years (SD 6.9), 71.3% (61/94) were male. One in five (20/94) participants were homeless. 68.1% (64/94) were on OST (opiate substitution therapy) at enrolment; participants injected median 6.5 times/wk. In terms of clinical outcomes, >80% treatment adherence was 71.3% (67/94). There was no difference in SVR‐12 rates by genotype: 81.0% (30/37) for G1 and 82.5% (47/55) for G2/3. At 18 months post‐treatment, 15/77 participants were reinfected, followed up over 69.8 person‐years, yielding a re‐infection rate of 21.5/100 person‐years (95% CI 13.00‐35.65). This trial demonstrates that HCV treatment can be delivered successfully to the target population of treatment as prevention strategies. We report higher rates of re‐infection than existing estimates among PWID. Scale‐up of HCV treatment should be pursued alongside a comprehensive programme of harm reduction interventions to help minimize re‐infection and reduce HCV transmission.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-528
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Viral Hepatitis
Issue number5
Early online date12 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • hepatitis C virus
  • injecting drug use
  • people who inject drugs
  • re-infection
  • treatment as prevention

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