#PO66: The Impact Of The COVID-19 Pandemic On Harm Reduction Services In Addiction Centres And On The DAA Treatment Initiated In The Balearic Islands, Spain: Preliminary Results From A Novel Hepatitis C Elimination Programme

Author: Andrea Herranz Cristina Pujol Àngels Vilella Camila A Picchio Ana Agius Juan Manuel Alonso Antonia Rodríguez Antonella Perrotta Lidia García Biel Mercadal Joaquín Serrano Francisco Fernández Laura Anoz Jason Doran Maria Buti Jeffrey Lazarus

Theme: Epidemiology and Public Health Research Year: 2021

Background: Spain is one of the countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which severely limited the provision of healthcare. This study aims to describe the impact of the pandemic on hepatitis C care for people who use drugs (PWUD) on the Balearic Islands, Spain. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with a questionnaire electronically administered to addictive behaviour units (n=10), a prison (n=1), non-governmental organisations (n=3) and a mobile methadone unit (n=1) on the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca). In addition, data on the number of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatments initiated in 2019 and 2020 were requested from public hospitals. Standard descriptive statistics were used to report key outcomes. Results: Results were obtained from 33% (5/15) of centres and 66% (4/6) of hospitals. During the COVID19 Spanish State of Alarm, all centres (n=5) maintained their operating-hours but adapted services provided, including the adoption of telemedicine in 60% of centres. Only some centres reported maintaining essential services, including opioid substitution therapy in 80%, needle and syringe programmes in 60%, overdose-prevention education programmes in 40% and mental health services in 60% of centres. The prison continued to offer DAA treatment and began COVID-19 testing. All centres reported an increase in mental health problems as the main issue faced by PWUD during the State of Alarm. Data on DAA treatment from the six public hospitals demonstrated a substantial decrease (46%; SD: 10.9) in the number of DAA treatments initiated in 2020 in comparison to 2019. Conclusion: Preliminary findings indicate that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the provision of harm reduction services on the Balearic Islands, including the number of DAA treatments initiated. Telephone calls and telemedicine became valuable tools to maintain access to services. As the pandemic continues, additional strategies are urgently needed to maintain these essential services for this vulnerable population. Disclosure of Interest Statement: No funding for this project was received

Download abstract