Injection drug users (IDUs) who participate in opioid substitution therapy (OST) programs are at lower risk of contracting hepatitis C virus (HCV), especially if they also receive significant injection supplies from a needle exchange program (NEP), aidsmap reports. These findings, the result of a systematic review of 25 observational studies of OST and NEP programs, were presented at the 24th International Harm Reduction Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

In the studies, 1,089 people contracted hep C during 4,262 person-years of follow-up.

OST reduced participants’ risk of contracting the virus by 39 percent. NEPs did not reduce the risk of hep C by a statistically significant measure, meaning that any reduction in risk may have been caused by chance. However, those who received OST and who received enough injection equipment from NEPs for every injection had a 71 percent reduced risk of infection, a figure that was statistically significant.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.