People with hepatitis C virus (HCV) should not be denied treatment simply because they are current or past injection drug users (IDUs), according to an international expert panel, reports. The panel, convened by the International Network for Hepatitis in Substance Users, issued recommendations about the treatment of hep C among IDUs, publishing them in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

The panel found that a history of injection drug use upon starting hep C treatment is not associated with a reduced likelihood of curing the virus. Any physician decisions about whether to start treatment, the panel stated, should be made on a case-by-case basis.

Because of the various challenges IDUs may experience outside of substance use, the panel advised that those embarking on hep C treatment should receive wrap-around support services and harm reduction methods in order to increase the likelihood that they will adhere well to the daily hep C drugs. (Treatment lasts eight, 12 or 24 weeks, depending on various factors.) IDUs may face challenges related to housing, social support, finances and mental health.

The panel stressed that hep C treatment among the IDU population has the power to stem the spread of the virus.

To read the HIVandHepatitis article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.