OST, HIV testing, ART, and condom programmes for PWID
Since 2014, Public Health England (PHE) Health and Justice has been supporting HM Prison & Probation Service (previously the National Offender Management Service) and National Health Services (NHS) England in the delivery of opt-out testing for blood-borne viruses (BBV) in all adult prisons in England. The evaluations include specific reports of offer and uptake of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C testing within 72 hours of reception to prison as well as referral for treatment for those found infected. These data show that in England in 2016/17, 16 321 tests were conducted for hepatitis B infection, 21 268 for hepatitis C infection and 37 474 for HIV infection. The proportion of new receptions receiving tests for HCV increased from 5.3% in 2010/2011 to 11.5% in 2015/2016.
This training manual was developed within the EU-funded programme, Joint Action on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Tuberculosis among People Who Inject Drugs in Europe (HA-REACT). The manual is designed to be a complete tool to provide staff in low-threshold settings the knowledge, skills and techniques needed for testing people who use drugs for HIV and HCV and linking them to needed care.
The content of the manual was adopted from previously developed guidelines, manuals and handbooks and is based on international best practices. The curriculum includes eight modules with descriptions of content to be taught and tips for practical exercises. The modules can be used as a complete 3-day training or independently.
Background: People who inject drugs (PWID) account for the majority of new cases of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infec‑ tion in Europe; however, HCV testing, and treatment for PWID remain suboptimal. With the advent of direct acting antivirals (DAAs) the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a strategy to eliminate HCV as public health threat by 2030. To achieve this, key policies for PWID must be implemented and HCV continuum of care needs to be monitored. This study presents results of the frst monitoring led by civil society that provide harm reduction services for PWID.
Methods: In 2019, harm reduction civil society organizations representing focal points of Correlation-European Harm Reduction Network in 36 European countries were invited to complete a 27-item online survey on four strategic felds: use/impact of guidelines on HCV testing and treatment for PWID, availability/functioning of continuum of care, changes compared to the previous year and, the role of harm reduction services and non-governmental organiza‑ tions (NGOs) of PWID. A descriptive analysis of the responses was undertaken.
Results: The response rate was 97.2%. Six countries reported having no guidelines on HCV treatment (17.1%). Twenty-three (65.7%) reported having treatment guidelines with specifc measures for PWID; guidelines that impact on accessibility to HCV testing/treatment and improve access to harm reduction services in 95.6% and 86.3% of them, respectively. DAAs were available in 97.1% of countries; in 26.4% of them they were contraindicated for active drug users. HCV screening/confrmatory tests performed at harm reduction services/community centers, prisons and drug dependence clinics were reported from 80.0%/25.7%, 60.0%/48.6%, and 62.9%/34.3% of countries, respectively. Provision of DAAs at drug dependence clinics and prisons was reported from 34.3 to 42.9% of countries, respectively. Compared to the previous year, HCV awareness campaigns, testing and treatment on service providers’ own locations were reported to increase in 42.9%, 51.4% and 42.9% of countries, respectively. NGOs of PWID conducted awareness campaigns on HCV interventions in 68.9% of countries, and 25.7% of countries had no such support.
Conclusion: Further improvements in continuum-of-care interventions for PWID are needed, which could be achieved by including harm reduction and PWID organizations in strategic planning of testing and treatment and in eforts to monitor progress toward WHO 2030 elimination goal.
Keywords: Hepatitis C, People who inject drugs, Continuum of care, Harm reduction, Civil society, Monitoring
Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections in people who inject drugs (PWID) can now be treated and cured. However, the impact that HCV treatment has on drug-user health, practices and wellbeing is not known. The aim of this research was to understand the non-clinical impact that HCV treatment has in PWID and their reasons for accessing and completing treatment.
Methods: Participants aged 25–67 years who had injected opioids or stimulants (currently or in the past) and had completed direct-acting antiviral treatment were recruited from seven European countries. Participants completed a 30-min online survey administered face-to-face between September 2018 and April 2019. The questionnaire responses were used to assess the mental and physical impact of having completed treatment.
Results: Of the 124 participants who completed the survey questionnaire, 75% were male, 69% were over 45 years old and 65% were using opioids and/or stimulants at the start of HCV treatment. Participants reported improvements in the following areas after completing HCV treatment: outlook for the future (79%); self-esteem (73%); ability to plan for the future (69%); belief in their abilities (68%); confidence (67%); empowerment (62%); energy levels (59%); and ability to look after themselves (58%). The most common reasons for starting HCV treatment were: becoming aware of treatments that were well tolerated (77%) and effective (75%); and understanding the potentially severe consequences of HCV (75%).
Conclusions: The benefits of HCV treatment go beyond clinical outcomes and are linked to improved drug-user health and wellbeing. Sharing information about well-tolerated and effective HCV treatments, and raising awareness about the potentially severe consequences of untreated HCV are likely to increase the number of PWID who are motivated to access and complete HCV treatment in future.
Keywords: Hepatitis C, Outcomes, Experience, People who inject drugs, Mental health, Physical wellbeing
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This is the second civil society-led monitoring report produced by Correlation – European Harm Reduction Network (C-EHRN). The purpose of this report is to enrich the information and knowledge base of harm reduction interventions in Europe from the viewpoint of civil society organisations. The Monitoring report gathers data on the experiences of harm reduction service providers and service users at ground level, building on a network of national Focal Points (FPs) in Europe. For the 2020 monitoring, C-EHRN includes 35 FPs in 34 countries. To get insight at the implementation level, and to profit from the experiences and expertise of FPs, the 2020 monitoring focuses mostly on cities rather than countries. The main areas monitored are: essential harm reduction services, overdose prevention, Hepatitis C, New drug Trends, Civil Society Involvement and COVID-19 impact on harm reduction services and people who use drugs.