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Follow-up medical referral among IDUs testing positive for hepatitis C

Grace L. Reynolds, DPA, Dennis G. Fisher, PhD, Catherine M. Branson, BA, and Adi Jaffe, BA. Center for Behavioral Research & Services, California State University, Long Beach, 1090 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90813, 562-495-2330, greynol2@csulb.edu

Background: Injection drug users(IDUs) are at high risk for hepatitis C, but may be without access to healthcare. Purpose: To investigate whether IDUs who tested positive for hepatitis C follow-up on referrals to medical care. Methods: 355 IDUs were tested for hepatitis A, B, and C. Those testing positive for hepatitis C received posttest counseling and referrals for follow-up medical care. Insurance, follow-up, and Quality of Well-Being Scale (QWB) data were collected. Results: 33 IDUs were followed up; 11 completed an appointment for health care. Most reported insurance through California General Relief, followed by Medicaid, and having no insurance. Those who were homeless were signficantly more likely to have followed through c2(2) = 4.58, p = .03. Individuals who had ever been in residential drug treatment were less likely to follow through c2 (1) = 3.27, p = .07. The mean QWB score was somewhere lower for the group that followed through with medical care (M=.59, SD=.10) than those who did not (M=.67, SD=.02, NS). Most individuals reported receiving a liver function test as part of medical care. Most who did not seek care said they "did not want more bad news". Conclusion: Homeless individuals may be more likely to follow through on medical referrals for hepatitis C because they are familiar with seeking services from agencies; alternatively, those individuals who report lower quality of life may seek medical care for relief from symptoms or generally feeling bad.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Injection Drug Users, Medical Care

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Characteristics of Illicit Drug Users Poster Session

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA