Factors associated with hepatitis C knowledge among a sample of treatment naive people who inject drugs

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Background Assessment and uptake of treatment for hepatitis C among people who inject drugs (PWID) is low and strategies to enhance hepatitis C care in this group are needed. Knowledge of hepatitis C and its treatment is one precursor to decisions about treatment. Methods We conducted a cross-section study designed to evaluate treatment considerations in participants with self-reported hepatitis C infection in New South Wales, Australia. Participants were recruited from needle and syringe programs, opiate substitution clinics, pharmacies that dispensed opiate substitution treatment and from the mailing list of a community-based hepatitis C organisation and completed a self-administered survey. Knowledge of hepatitis C was assessed by a 48-item scale addressing the natural history and treatment of hepatitis C. Factors associated with knowledge were assessed by ordinal regression. Results Among the 997 participants recruited, 407 self-reported acquiring hepatitis C through injecting drug use and had never received hepatitis C treatment. Knowledge about hepatitis C was overall poor and the effects of the long term consequences of hepatitis C were over-estimated. Higher knowledge scores were associated with recruitment site, higher education levels and recent contact with a general practitioner. One-third of participants indicated that they did not intend to have treatment and one-fifth did not answer this question. Conclusion Knowledge is a precursor to informed decisions about hepatitis C treatment. These results indicate that efforts to support those less engaged with hepatitis C care (and specifically those on opiate substitution treatment) and those with lower literacy are required.
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Treloar, Carla
Hull, Peter
Bryant, Joanne
Hopwood, Maxwell
Grebely, Jason
Lavis, Yvonna
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