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Type of submission: Oral
Conference track: Practice
Topics: Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis
Presenting author: Eberhard Schatz
As new direct acting anti-retroviral (DAA) HCV treatments become increasingly available throughout Europe, it is critically important that national Hepatitis strategies address the special needs of people who inject drugs (PWID) and that harm reduction services are in place to connect PWID’s to treatment, and minimise risk behaviours that can result in re-infection.
To address practical implications (a), the Correlation Network’s EU Hepatitis C and Drug Use Initiative developed capacity building trainings to assist harm reduction programs become capable to offer integrated HCV prevention and treatment support.
To address political implications (b), in we conducted in 2014 and 2016 a survey in 33 European countries to collect data on the existence of national strategies, action plans and clinical guidelines and the inclusion of special needs of PWID’s.
(a)Post training evaluation showed 85% reporting the training provided information that was direly needed, 60% who participated in the trainings reported not having formal harm reduction risk counselling training, safer injection training, or knowledge of HCV prevention needs.
(b)In 2014, Fourteen (42.4%) of the countries reported having a national strategy and/or national action plan for HCV treatment. Nearly three-quarters reported having national HCV treatment guidelines. PWID were included in the majority (66.7%) of the guidelines. Fourteen (42.4%) countries reported having separate guidelines for the treatment of HCV infection in PWID. The results of the 2016 survey will be presented in detail.
We have seen an inability to engage PWID in user friendly behavioural outcome focused discussions to prevent HCV and training is critical important to upscale HCV treatment in harm reduction settings.
Given the high burden of HCV-related morbidity and mortality in PWID, the management of HCV infection should become a healthcare priority in all European countries, starting with developing or using already-existing national strategies, action plans and guidelines.