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APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing
5173.0: Wednesday, November 07, 2007 - 3:10 PM

Abstract #154878

Attitudes, testing and treatment rates of hepatitis C and HIV among injection drug users

Kirsten Rowe, MS1, James Tesoriero, PhD2, Karyn K. Heavner, MSPH2, Jeffrey Rothman, MS, MBA3, Alain Litwin, MD4, Marc Slifer, MSW1, and Guthrie S. Birkhead, MD, MPH5. (1) AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health, Riverview Center, Suite 516, 150 Broadway, Menands, NY 12204, 518-402-6814, kas11@health.state.ny.us, (2) New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, State of New York Department of Health, Riverview Center, 5th floor, 150 Broadway, Menands, NY 12204, (3) Health Facility Planning, New York State Department of Health, 433 River St., 6th Floor, Troy, NY 12180, (4) Division of Substance Abuse, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 3230 Bainbridge Ave., Suite C, Bronx, NY 10467, (5) Deputy Commissioner, Office of Public Health, NYS Department of Health, Corning Tower, 14th floor, ESP, Albany, NY 12237

BACKGROUND: Injection drug users are at high risk for HIV and HCV, but historically have had less access to HCV evaluation and treatment. The Viral Hepatitis Integration Project (VHIP) seeks to establish/enhance hepatitis screening, testing, prevention and treatment within drug treatment and substance use settings already providing HIV services.

METHODS: Clients from methadone maintenance treatment programs and syringe exchange programs in New York City completed a baseline survey (n=1414) assessing their attitudes, beliefs, knowledge, experiences and risk behaviors.

RESULTS: The sample was predominately male (59%), >40 years old (66%) and Hispanic (65%). At baseline, just one-third of clients were vaccinated for hepatitis A or B. Furthermore, 73% and 98% had tested for HCV and HIV, respectively. Sixty percent of those tested were HCV-positive and 18% were HIV-positive. While 76% of HCV-positive clients had discussed treatment with a health care provider only 22% had a liver biopsy. Only 15% of HCV-positive clients were in treatment compared to 82% of HIV-positive clients. In contrast, clients expressed favorable attitudes towards hepatitis testing, vaccinations and treatment; 92% indicated they would get vaccinated and, among HCV-positive clients, the majority would get a liver biopsy and receive treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite higher rates of HCV than HIV, hepatitis services are accessed at much lower rates than HIV services although clients have favorable attitudes toward hepatitis testing, vaccinations and treatment. Given this population's risky behavior, hepatitis vaccinations and HCV testing should be strongly encouraged as well as increasing access to HCV testing/treatment services. VHIP will address these inequities.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Hepatitis C, Injection Drug Users

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Drug Use Behaviors and HIV Risk Behaviors among Underserved Populations

The 135th APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 3-7, 2007) of APHA