229898 Hepatitis C prevention at a crossroads: Insights from harm reduction

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Daniel Raymond , Policy Department, Harm Reduction Coalition, New York, NY
Injection drug use is the leading cause of new hepatitis C infections in the United States and a major driver of the epidemic worldwide. Strategies that have proven effective in reducing HIV transmission through injection drug use including syringe access, drug treatment, and outreach and education have each had limited impact on hepatitis C rates among drug injectors, and there currently is no vaccine to prevent infection. Annual hepatitis C incidence rates among injectors range from 10% to 40%, and overall prevalence exceeds 50% among people who have injected drugs for at least five years. Recent research findings provide new insights into social and structural factors which mediate hepatitis C risks among injectors, pointing towards the need for a multimodal package of complementary prevention interventions. An effective package of public health interventions to prevent hepatitis C should include at a minimum greater access to sterile syringes and drug treatment, peer network-based education and testing strategies, anti-stigma efforts, and initiatives to address structural and environmental risk factors. The presentation will review the latest epidemiologic data and understanding of risk factors for injection-related transmission of hepatitis C, explore barriers and gaps in effective hepatitis C prevention, and describe promising evidence-based approaches to implementing a comprehensive hepatitis C prevention package. The presenter will discuss these approaches in the context of new recommendations from the Institute of Medicine report on viral hepatitis and liver cancer.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify five key social, structural, and epidemiologic factors influencing risk of hepatitis C infection among injection drug users. 2. Assess the relative impact of three interventions on reducing hepatitis C risk among drug injectors. 3. Describe the need for an integrated and intensified approach to comprehensive hepatitis C prevention. 4. Discuss the significance of the Institute of Medicine recommendations on harm reduction for viral hepatitis prevention.

Keywords: Hepatitis C, Injecting Drug Use

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked extensively in harm reduction for twenty years; I collaborate with researchers, public health officials, and harm reduction programs on hepatitis C; and I was invited to provide expert testimony to the IOM panel on hepatitis C prevention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.