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25.05.2021 | original article

Challenges in hepatitis C elimination despite highly effective antiviral agents in patients with and without intravenous drug use

Wiener klinische Wochenschrift
Simona Bota, Marcel Razpotnik, Florian Hucke, Christian Urak, Kerstin Flatscher, Prim. Univ. Prof. Dr. Markus Peck-Radosavljevic
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To assess the adherence to treatment, sustained virologic response (SVR) rate, and reinfection rate in hepatitis C patients with and without intravenous drug use.


This retrospective study included hepatitis C patients, evaluated and treated in our hepatology outpatient clinic between January 2014 and October 2019.
The following information was extracted from the patient’s file: the presence of positive viral load for hepatitis C virus (HCV), active and recent (in the last 6 months) use of i.v. drugs, HCV genotype, treatment regimen, SVR, HCV reinfection rate, coinfection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and ongoing opioid substitution therapy (OST).


We included 431 hepatitis C patients, 234 people who inject drugs (PWID) and 197 non-PWID. Most patients were treated with direct-acting antivirals (DAA) only.
The rate of documented SVR by treated patients was significantly higher in the non-PWID cohort (91.5% vs. 61.5%, p < 0.0001), while noncompliance (did not show up to start treatment) rate or refusal of treatment was significantly higher in the PWID cohort (19.4% vs. 8.9%, p = 0.004).
In the PWID cohort, younger age and recent (in the last 6 months) or ongoing i.v. drug use was associated with noncompliance: 31.1 ± 8.4 years vs. 35.8 ± 10.6 years (p = 0.02) and 33.3% vs. 12.8% (p = 0.0008), respectively.
Ongoing OST was associated with better compliance: 61.1% vs. 46.1% (p = 0.04).


To achieve elimination of hepatitis C better treatment strategies are needed, especially in PWIDs.

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