Exploring the Lived Experience of HCV Reinfection

Author: Amy McEwan Lawrie Elliott Sharon Hutchinson Paul Flowers

Theme: Social Science & Policy Research Year: 2022

Increased rates of HCV reinfection have been observed following the scale-up of direct-acting
antiviral (DAA) treatments among people who inject drugs (PWID). Little qualitative research exists
surrounding HCV reinfection in the DAA era. Our aim was to explore the lived experience of PWID
who have experienced a reinfection in the DAA era.
Participants who had experienced reinfection were identified via NHS services across four health
boards in Scotland. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was chosen to enable a deep
exploration of the experience and determinants of reinfection. Participants were interviewed
remotely. Analysis focussed on systematically detailing the key features of the experience of
reinfection as experienced by individual participants and across the participant group.
Analysis highlighted similarities and differences in the lived experience of reinfection across the
participants. Reinfection was driven by a range of socio-cultural and psychosocial factors,
highlighting the importance of the community, familial/peer contexts and environment in shaping
reinfection. Participants life histories (e.g., coercive control, dysfunctional childhood relationships,
pathogenic social networks) and socioeconomic positioning were more important than a lack of
knowledge or low levels of perceived risk of reinfection.
Although based on in-depth insights into a small number of cases, these findings highlight the need
to address the psychosocial and sociocultural determinants of reinfection. Given the results,
attempts to increase knowledge about the risks of reinfection are unlikely to succeed. Instead multilevelled interventions are needed to modify people’s interactions with their social environment.
Disclosure of Interest Statement:
This study is part of a PhD project, as such no grants have been awarded in relation to this study.

Download abstract Download poster