Pre-Testing Knowledge of Hepatitis C Status among 1504 Consecutive Participants at the Stockholm Needle Exchange

Author: Kåberg M, Hammarberg A, Weiland O

Theme: Epidemiology & Public Health Research Year: 2016


Kåberg M1, Hammarberg A1, Weiland O1

1 Karolinska Institutet Department of Medicine Huddinge, Stockholm Sweden

1 Karolinska Institutet Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Stockholm Sweden

Background: People who inject drugs (PWID) are the driving force for the hepatitis C (HCV) epidemic. Transmission via needle- or paraphernalia sharing is the cause. Needle syringe programs (NSP) are part of preventive measures to reduce the spread of HCV. The first NSP in Stockholm was introduced in 2013. Since the knowledge of HCV status is poor in PWID, participants in the program were asked to report their individual HCV status before they were tested for anti-HCV and HCV-RNA. Of 1504 enrolled 1386 were included in final analyses.

Results: Of the participants, 62% reported that they had been tested for HIV and hepatitis B and C during the past twelve months and 91% reported getting the test result. Awareness of the actual HCV status, however, was poor. Overall 82.2% were anti-HCV positive and 62.1% were HCV-RNA positive.

The notion of having an active viremic HCV infection correlated well with being anti-HCV positive (99%) but 14% of those who believed they had a viremic/chronic HCV were HCV-RNA negative and 32% of those who believed that they never had encountered HCV were anti-HCV positive and 24% HCV RNA positive. Those who stated that they had cleared their HCV-infection were anti-HCV positive in 98% but 32% were HCV RNA positive. 40 persons reported that they were HCV negative after a previous successful HCV treatment. Among these13 (33%) were HCV-RNA positive.

Discussion: Accurate awareness of the individual HCV status is poor in PWID in Stockholm despite recent testing. These data indicates that more accurate feed-back on HCV status is needed to improve this awareness. Further studies are needed to examine whether better knowledge of HCV status will reduce injection risk behavior.

Disclosure of Interest: Kåberg M, has no conflict of interest. Hammarberg A, has no conflict of Interest. Weiland O, has no conflict of interest.

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