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Risk Factors Associated with HCV Among Opioid-Dependent Patients in a Multisite Study.

Journal of Community Health 2015;40(5):940-947. [doi: 10.1007/s10900-015-0016-2]

Marya T. Schulte, PhD, Yih-Ing Hser, PhD, Andrew J. Saxon, MD (Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, PN Node), Elizabeth Evans, MA, Libo Li, PhD, David Huang, DrPH, MPH, Maureen P. Hillhouse, PhD, Christie Thomas, MPH, Walter Ling, MD (all from Integrated Substance Abuse Programs, UCLA, PR Node except where noted).

Since first being identified in 1989, HCV has quickly gained attention as a public health concern due to its intense proliferation and negative consequences associated with chronic infection. In comparison with other blood-borne illnesses, HCV is now far more common than HIV/AIDS; and unlike HBV, HCV lacks available vaccines. Because injection drug use is by far the most significant risk factor for contracting HCV, and continued substance use among infected persons raises the risk for developing complications, as well as spreading the infection, this study sought to better understand the risk factors associated with HCV among patients enrolled into medication-assisted therapy for opioid dependence. Patients (N=1039) were randomized as part of a larger, multisite clinical trial sponsored by the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN-0027) assessing liver function in opioid-dependent participants randomized to medication condition (buprenorphine/naloxone or methadone). HCV status was first assessed with an antibody screen; if positive, then current infection was determined with an antigen screen testing for detectable virus. Patients were classified as HCV negative, HCV positive but have cleared the virus, or as having chronic HCV. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine demographic and behavioral correlates of the three groups.

Thirty-four percent of patients were classified with chronic infection and 14% had evidence of prior infection with apparent clearing of the virus. Chronic infection was associated with recent injection drug use and cocaine use. Chronic HCV infection was also associated with being older and Hispanic.

Conclusions: Age, ethnicity, and current drug use increase the likelihood of being chronically infected with HCV. Strategies targeting high risk subgroups can aid in preventing further disease escalation. Further research would benefit from better understanding the role of ethnicity in transmission and/or spontaneous remission. Early intervention and continuous monitoring of IDUs should be the primary focus for addressing this epidemic. (Article (Peer-Reviewed), PDF, English, 2015)

Keywords: Buprenorphine/naloxone | CTN platform/ancillary study | Hepatitis C | Hispanics and Latinos | Injection drug use | Liver enzymes | Methadone maintenance | Opioid dependence | Pharmacological therapy | Suboxone | Journal of Community Health (journal)

Document No: 1136, PMID: 25814381, PMCID: PMC4558248.

Submitted by CTN Dissemination Librarians, 4/20/2015.


Evans, Elizabeth mail
Hillhouse, Maureen P. mail
Huang, David
Hser, Yih-Ing mail
Li, Libo search
Ling, Walter search mail
Saxon, Andrew J. search mail
Schulte, Marya T. search mail
Thomas, Christie search mail
NIDA-CTN-0027 www
Pacific Region (Lead) www
Western States (Lead) www
Delaware Valley www
New England Consortium www
Pacific Northwest www

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