C-Buddies: Missing Piece of the Puzzle in a Comprehensive “Not Under One Roof“. Approach for Hepatitis C Management Among People Who Use Drugs .

Author: Windelinckx T, Maertens G, Van Dijck A, Van Montfoort T, dr. Bourgeois S, Dr. Matheï C

Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2016


Windelinckx T1, Maertens G1 , Van Dijck A1 , Van Montfoort T1, dr. Bourgeois S2, Dr. Matheï C3.

1Ngo Free Clinic, 2ZNA, 3Ngo Free Clinic and KULeuven

Background: People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) are the main group affected by hepatitis C (HCV) and do not always have a stable social network. However, having support during HCV treatment, is essential to cope with various associated challenges. In Antwerp (Belgium), we developed a ‘not under one roof’ model with promising results. This individually tailored approach consists of a close collaboration between specialized hepatologists and a multidisciplinary, low-threshold drug care centre. Nevertheless, we noticed something missing. Therefore we initiated a peer-driven project, called the C-Buddy project, operational from 2009 until 2011 and restarted in 2015.

Method: The C-Buddy project marks the commitment of PWID who completed therapy, as support of PWID entering therapy. Given their own experiences, the C-Buddies, supervised by professionals, showed to be ideally placed to offer maximum support. After recruitment and training, the nature of their support varies from information during the pre-therapy phase, over practical and mental support during therapy to aftercare.

Results: Since November 2015, 25 PWID enrolled in the C-Buddy project. 8 PWID completed therapy, 17 recently started or are awaiting treatment. Previously, some PWID were –though not formally-excluded from therapy because of psychiatric problems, low finances and lack of social network. Buddy support allowed also this group to enter and successfully complete therapy. By means of case-studies, we will present our experiences. Firstly, we will describe the outlines of our not under one roof approach, highlighting the role of the C-Buddies (nature of support, realizations, shortcomings, pitfalls…). Secondly, we will show how the content/nature of Buddy support is adapted according to the individual needs as well as the therapeutic approach (interferon-based vs DAA).

Conclusion: This unique project effectively removes barriers to enter and successfully complete HCV therapy for PWID.

Disclosure of Interest Statement: Ngo Free Clinic and the 2016 Conference Collaborators recognise the considerable contribution that industry partners make to professional and research activities. We also recognise the need for transparency of disclosure of potential conflicts of interest by acknowledging these relationships in publications and presentations.

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