Expanding hepatitis C virus (HCV) treatment among people who inject drugs could significantly help reduce new infections of the
The strategy, known as “treatment as prevention,” or TaSP, hypothesizes that curing hepatitis C among at-risk individuals can, in the long run, help put a major dent in new transmissions of the virus. While TaSP has proved highly effective in reducing the spread of HIV, few studies thus far have investigated its efficacy with regard to viral liver disease.
For the study, infectious disease experts Alexei Zelenev,
Ultimately, the researchers found that when hepatitis C prevalence is higher than 85 percent in a population of people who inject drugs, treatment as prevention does not substantially reduce the spread of HCV. However, when a group’s baseline prevalence was 60 percent or lower, researchers discovered that treating 12 percent or more of individuals in the group was, in fact, effective at preventing new transmissions, with the potential to eliminate the virus completely in the group within 10 years.
Researchers also noted that assigning treatment randomly throughout the population (rather than targeting just those with the greatest number of injection partners) was the most effective
The study was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and can be accessed online here.