Hepatitis C virus testing should be combined with HIV integrated care services among people who inject drugs (PWID), according to researchers reporting on a multisite randomized trial of nearly 12,000 HIV-infected individuals in India.

Courtesy NIH

HCV antibody prevalence at these sites ranged from 7.2%-76.6%. Across six integrated care centers (ICCs), 5,263 clients underwent HCV testing, of whom 2,278 were newly diagnosed. At evaluation, PWID in ICC clusters were nearly four times more likely to report being tested for HCV than those in usual care clusters (adjusted prevalence ratio [aPR]: 3.69), according to the report by Sunil Suhas Solomon, MD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and colleagues.

PWID in ICC clusters were also seven times more likely to be aware of their HCV status (aPR: 7.11; 95% confidence interval: 1.14, 44.3) and significantly more likely to initiate treatment, (aPR: 9.86; 95% CI: 1.52, 63.8), than individuals in usual care, the authors stated in their report published online ahead of press in the Journal of Hepatology.

“These data provide among the first empirical support of the benefits of integrating HCV testing with HIV prevention and treatment services for PWID. Over a short duration, we observed significant impact on community-level HCV testing and awareness of HCV status among PWID. While additional strategies might be required to improve population awareness levels, integration of HCV testing with HIV programs for PWID particularly given the high burden of HIV/HCV coinfection represents a critical first step,” the researchers concluded.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The authors reported that they had no relevant disclosures.

SOURCE: Solomon, SS et al. J Hepatol. 2019. doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2019.09.022.