Outcomes from a large 10 year hepatitis C treatment programme in people who inject drugs: No effect of recent or former injecting drug use on treatment adherence or therapeutic response.
People who inject drugs (PWID) are historically viewed as having “difficult to treat” hepatitis C disease, with perceived inferior treatment adherence and outcomes, and concerns regarding reinfection risk. We evaluated for differences in treatment adherence and response to Peginterferon-alfa-2a/Ribavirin (Peg-IFNα/RBV) in a large urban cohort with and without a history of remote or recent injection drug use.
Patient data was retrospectively reviewed for 1000 consecutive patients—608 former (no injecting drug use for 6 months of therapy), 85 recent (injecting drug use within 6 months) PWID, and 307 non-drug users who were treated for chronic hepatitis C with Peg-IFNα/RBV. The groups were compared for baseline characteristics, treatment adherence, and outcome.
There was no significant difference in treatment non-adherence between the groups (8.4% in PWID vs 6.8% in non-PWIDs; RR = 1.23, CI 0.76–1.99). The overall SVR rate in PWID (64.2%) was not different from non-PWIDs (60.9%) [RR = 1.05, 95% CI 0.95–1.17]. There was no significant difference in SVR rates between the groups controlling for genotype (48.4% vs 48.4% for genotype 1; 74.9 vs 73.3% for genotype 3). Former and recent PWID had similar adherence rates.
PWID have comparable treatment adherence and SVR rates when compared to non-drug users treated with Peg-IFNα/RBV. These data support a public health strategy of HCV treatment and eradication in PWID in the DAA era.