Less than one in five Canadian medical specialists are willing to treat active injection drug users for hepatitis C, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology.

For the study, researchers surveyed 105 hepatologists, gastroenterologists and infectious-disease specialists about their hep C prescription practices in their patient populations.

The researchers found that just under 20 percent of the specialists surveyed indicated that they’d be likely to provide regular treatment to an injection drug user who’s currently using needle exchange. Meanwhile, almost 90 percent of those surveyed would treat a former injection drug user who’s currently on substitution therapy (i.e. methadone).

“Providing treatment services for HCV-infected substance abusers is challenging and there are many treatment barriers,” the study authors concluded. “However, effective delivery of treatment to this population will help to limit the spread of HCV.”